Statement of Madison Mayor Paul Soglin on Madison Police Department Investigations

Friday, February 1, 2013 - 9:42am

In any officer involved shooting there are questions. In these situations, there are generally two types of investigations, and they should not be confused.

First, regarding personnel matters we have an internal investigation by the Police Department. This involves the Professional Standards and Internal Investigation (PS&IA) unit of the MPD, and the Police Chief makes a determination regarding discipline.

The second part of the disciplinary process involves the Police and Fire Commission (PFC), five citizens, each serving five-year terms. The PFC is not usually an investigatory body, but an administrative review panel that hears evidence presented by others. For more details on how the PFC works, I suggest reviewing the memorandums from City Attorney Mike May and PFC legal counsel, Scott Herrick.

I find the PFC to be a valuable citizen based review panel regarding disciplinary matters. Citizens who desire a fresh look at the actions of any MPD officer should consider using the PFC procedure.

Second, regarding the state criminal investigation, that matter is subject to state statute and the judgment of the District Attorney who is a county official. There are two parts to the process, first the investigation which must be conducted by a law enforcement agency, and secondly the decision to prosecute. As noted by the City Attorney, this may involve an inquest.

We need to examine this system, which presents some conflicts. I have complete faith in the Madison Police Department to investigate Madison police officers, under the existing system, with assistance or outside review by agencies like the Wisconsin Department of Justice and the Dane County Sherriff. However, because of the questions posed regarding impartiality, I would be receptive to having an outside law enforcement agency take primary responsibility in conducting the criminal investigations when a death occurs because of actions taken by a Madison police officer. As for the decision to prosecute, current law provides that there can be inquiries conducted by a citizen panel conducting an inquest. This procedure is governed by state statue. I am receptive to proposals that might modify these procedures to address the concerns about potential conflicts.

Finally, I welcome the decision by U.S. Attorney John Vaudreuil to request a review by the U.S. Department of Justice. The City will cooperate with the investigation.

Regarding the events on early morning of November 9, 2012, I am withholding comments on the recommendation of the City Attorney. In the future, I will address the challenges of subduing judgment-impaired individuals.

  • Katie Crawley, 608-266-4611