Friday, July 15, 2011 - 4:43am
MPD DEPLOYS CITYWIDE COORDINATED RESPONSE
The Madison Police Department has implemented a citywide coordinated response following a rash of robberies that have targeted citizens, who - in most cases - were simply trying to move about the community. There have been more than 30 robberies, of a similar type, reported since early April. They frequently have involved violence or intimidation by use of a weapon, and have occurred in all areas of Madison
The MPD's coordinated response is being led by Capt. Jay Lengfeld, Lt. Joey Skenandore, and Lt. Trevor Knight. It includes all levels of the MPD: commanders, crime analysts, patrol officers, detectives, neighborhood officers, forensic investigators, community police teams, the Crime Prevention & Gang Unit (CPGU), and the newly formed Special Investigations Unit (SIU). The Dane County District Attorney is also part of the coordinated response. This has been an ongoing effort, with many from the citywide team meeting most recently this past Wednesday afternoon at the East District Station. New information is being shared on a regular basis, and additional strategies are being developed.
The MPD has made several arrests, and identified numerous suspects. While probable cause to make more arrests may not yet exist, many suspected criminals are being watched, and they do not enjoy anonymity.
It is believed that there are several groups involved in the violent robberies. Most are comprised of gang-affiliated males ranging in age from early teens to late 20's. CPGU members indicate some have brought bigger city criminal behavior to the Capitol City, as these violent robberies are quickly becoming a nationwide trend.
In Madison, robberies have taken place all days of the week, at all times of the day, although many have occurred between 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m. MPD crime analysts say the vast majority involve two or more assailants, some carry a gun, and questions aimed at distracting the victim are often used prior to attacks, like asking for change. This gives the robber time to close the space gap with the victim. In other cases the victim has just been approached from behind, struck and robbed.
It appears the motive is - in part - money, but some of those arrested have also indicated they see this as entertainment. On June 10th, three suspects: ages 16, 14, and 15, were arrested after a 24-year old man was knocked down on W. Badger Road at 3:00 p.m. - broad daylight. A distraction technique, similar to what is referenced above, was utilized before the victim was punched and robbed of his iPod. One suspect told an investigating officer that they were playing "point em' out, knock ‘em out."
This violent behavior cannot, and will not be tolerated in the City of Madison. Identifying and arresting more of those responsible is a priority for the MPD. Once again, the department will need the community's help in this endeavor. If you have information on anyone committing these crimes, call Madison Area Crime Stoppers at 266-6014. Making arrests will be part of the coordinated citywide strategy, but emphasis must also be placed on changing behavior. CPGU members are actively trying to steer young people away from gangs. Community members must also help in this regard. The SIU (see news release posted on 7/13) may also play a role in intervening in some robbers' lives.
In the meantime, the MPD's Crime Prevention Officer, Frank Chandler, offers these tips on how best to keep safe while walking:
• Someone should always know where you are going and when you will return.
• Always maintain situational awareness. Wearing headphones, talking or texting on a cell phone may distract you. Keep your head up and look around.
• Consider your options in the case of an emergency. Yelling or blowing a whistle can draw attention if you need help.
• Know your location.
• Wearing bright clothing makes it easier for people to find you if you should need help.
• Wear shoes that are secure and won't restrict you if you need to run or protect yourself.
• Keep your hands free whenever possible.
• Walk in well lit areas when possible.
• Walk with others, in well traveled areas.
• Carry identification separate from your valuables. Don't carry more cash or valuables than you need for that outing.
• Carry a cell phone for emergency, but don't ‘advertise' an expensive cell phone.
• Consider what businesses are open near you, and where are the nearest residences.
• Trust your senses. If something feels unsafe, avoid it.
"This has become an organizational priority for the MPD," said Chief Noble Wray, adding, "We are committed to ID those responsible, and hold them accountable."
- Joel DeSpain, 266-4897