Statement in Response to Violence on Madison's Southwest Side

June 11, 2009

Mayor Dave Cieslewicz made the following statement today regarding violence on Madison's Southwest side:

"First, I want to express my deep sadness about the tragedy that happened last night. My thoughts go out to the family, friends and community.

"We are an exceptionally safe city and we take these acts of violence - tragic and uncommon as they are - as an affront to our entire community. Public safety continues to be our top priority. And we must continue our broad, comprehensive approach to address it.

"We have made significant strides in addressing public safety as a community:

• Since 2003, we have added 54 police officers that have been deployed throughout the City.

• We have added neighborhood officers, specifically in neighborhoods on the southwest side. In addition to providing additional police services, these neighborhood officers have worked hard to reduce anonymity in the neighborhoods by organizing safety walks and neighborhood picnics aimed at connecting neighbors.

• We have added an additional gang officer.

• We have added four crime analysts.

• We have adopted a Chronic Nuisance Ordinance that is having a substantial impact on problematic landlords throughout the city, including the southwest side.

• We have developed an outstanding relationship with the Madison Metropolitan School District. We are jointly working to maintain and improve safety and quality of life in our schools and throughout our community by implementing Metro safety enhancements and posting Education Resource Officers to specific schools.

• We also worked with the school district to open the new Meadowood Neighborhood Center.

• We've launched a pilot of our Neighborhood Indicators and are launching it full scale later this year. Neighborhood Indicators is a battery of measures designed to serve as an early warning system in measuring the health and vitality of a neighborhood.

"But, there is more to be done:

• We need to address the access and availability of handguns. Last night's tragedy resulted in one teenager killed with a handgun. This is abhorrent and unacceptable.

• We need to recognize that many of the issues surrounding violent behavior in our community are not solvable by the police or government alone. We need defined community standards that are enforced first by the community and, when necessary, by the police.

• We need to continue to find ways to reduce anonymity and build a sense of community throughout our neighborhoods. Anonymity leads to misperceptions. Misperceptions lead to fear.

• We need to temper anecdotal fear with facts. Our city is exceptionally safe and our schools are some of the best public schools in the country.

"To these ends, I will convene a meeting in my office with neighborhood leaders, alders, school officials, police and community leaders to address public safety concerns in our community."

Contact:
  • Rachel Strauch-Nelson, (608) 266-4611