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To better protect our community’s beautiful park system, in 2008 Madison Parks and Madison Police launched a Parks Watch initiative. Neighbors joined together to learn how to organize a watch program, what to watch for and how to communicate their concerns to city officials.

In much the same fashion as Neighborhood Watch, we are asking park neighbors and partners to extend their watchful eyes and ears to the public spaces throughout the City of Madison. We are particularly interested in securing the cooperation of citizens whose homes or businesses overlook the public parks and public spaces as well as asking visitors who use these attractive and friendly facilities to serve as park ambassadors. The many generous volunteers who regularly tend to the parks and raise money for the park system will also be included in the process.

Successful Neighborhood and Parks Watch programs depend on grassroots efforts. The Madison Police Department and Madison Parks representatives will be available to train residents in the processes of Parks Watch, focusing specifically on how to be a good witness, best communication methods with your neighbors, Police & Parks officials, as well as when and how to contact the 9-1-1 Center.

How to Start

A Parks Watch program can vary by park. Just as each park is unique, each Parks Watch is unique. Some programs consist of a couple members, neighbors or users. But one thing they all have in common is getting neighbors in direct communication with each other, Madison Police and Madison Parks. Having more helpful eyes and ears in the parks helps protect our neighborhoods and our parks. Below are general guidelines that may help an organizer form a Parks Watch program.
  1. Meet and team up with other neighbors and/or parks users to establish a Parks Watch program and a Parks Watch Leader.
  2. Decide as a group how the Parks Watch will communicate and the rules regarding the communication. Suggested ways to communicate are to set up an email listserv or phone chain.
  3. The Parks Watch Leader will contact the Madison Parks Division, Laura Whitmore, 266-5949 and/or Madison Police Department, Officer Frank Chandler, 266-4238 to alert city staff that you have started a Parks Watch program.
  4. The Police Department will connect your group with a neighborhood officer.
  5. Once a string of email communications within your Parks Watch listserv has clearly shown something that needs to be addressed, the Parks Watch Leader will forward that communication to the Neighborhood Officer and Madison Parks. By communicating with your neighbors via email or phone tree, you will start establishing a more complete story in the event that the police need to be contacted. The great thing about a Parks Watch is that people who live on various sides of the park, or use the park at different times of the day, will be seeing different parts of the whole.

When to Call 9-1-1

  • When you see a crime happening: burglary, battery, weapons, child abuse, drunk driver, hit-and-run accident, robbery, etc.
  • When you hear someone calling for help
  • When someone is hurt and needs an ambulance
  • When you see an uncontrolled fire
  • When there is a serious car crash

When to call Police, non-emergency at (608) 266-4275

  • Parking complaints
  • Noise complaints
  • Neighbor problems
  • Fender-bender crashes
  • Drug or prostitution activity
  • Damage to property
  • Disorderly conduct
  • Trespass
  • Suspicious activity
  • Downed trees during storms

When to call Animal Control at (608) 255-2345

  • Animal complaints

When to call Madison Parks at (608) 266-4711

  • Broken play equipment or other park amenities
  • Graffiti
    1. Take a picture, if you can, and email it to parks@cityofmadison.com
    2. Call the main office to report the graffiti (608) 266-4711
    3. Useful information concerning the graffiti is park and location within the park, type of surface (on a wooden picnic table, on plastic play equipment, on concrete basketball court, etc)