Staying True to Their Core Values
Before starting this internship I had my doubts about the "effectiveness" of the Madison Police Department. During my scholarly endeavors I encountered many statistics about the criminal justice system that tarnished my opinion of 21st century policing in America as a whole. It certainly did not help that Dane County had some of the worst racial disproportionate arrest rates in the country. After reading the Madison Police Department's Core Values over and over, I thought to myself, how could a department with these exemplary Core Values be part of such disproportionate statistics?
It took some time for me to learn how to apply the MPDs core values with different officers and units. After internalizing the Core Values: Human Dignity, Service, Community Partnership, Diversity, Integrity, Leadership, Continuous Improvement and Proficiency I realized that most every employee, regardless of rank, were working on staying true to the MPD Core Values. On all of my ride alongs MPD officers displayed extraordinary levels of Human Dignity and Service towards all citizens. Officers were concerned with the wellbeing of citizens regardless of criminal history. Lt. Austin and Officer Brown began and ended every contact with a handshake. Every conversation I observed ended on a positive note; whether that be Officer McLay's lecture on how to avoid a ticket or Officer Kalka's offer to drive a jobless offender to a job interview. The mutual respect between officers and citizens they had previously arrested illuminates an unprecedented gracious professional relationship.
The Madison Police Department is at the forefront of Community Partnership and Diversity. The Community Policing Team (CPT), Neighborhood Resource Officer (NRO), and Community Outreach Resource Education Unit (CORE) went great lengths to proactively better the community. Even officers who were not part of community outreach units aspire to build trust, and alleviate disproportionate aspects of policing. Lt. Krueger Favour of the Central District helps run CampHERO, a girl scout camp designed to expose more women to the first responder profession. No wonder the Madison Police Department employs three times more women than a typical policing agency. Regardless of rank, MPD personnel take the time to reach out and connect with communities in Madison. Officer Prado connects with the Latino community by taking time out of his days off to volunteer for mentoring positives, or prolong is involvement with Amigos en Azul. The CPT and CORE Units aspire to establish trust and even a sense of camaraderie with their assigned communities. The CORE team proactively builds trust by engaging 6-8th graders through MSCR programs. The CPT connects with citizens, offenders, and business owners in the community. While the NRO assists with hot spots in order to make the community safer. MPD's Mental Health Officer is readily available to intervene during a mental health crisis. After working alongside such units I cannot reiterate how effective the MPD is at proactively and retroactively solving problems.
Madison is extremely lucky to have the presence of a policing agency that takes pride on being progressive, but keeps the quintessential historical roots of ideal policing. Sir Robert Peel who founded the Metropolitan Police in 1829 iterated how public-police relations are the most important principle of law enforcement. After vigorously studying Legal Studies, Political Science and Criminal Justice, I could not agree more with the MPD's style of policing. The MPD exceeds the realms of Peel's principle by employing leaders that aspire to better the community while simultaneously acting as its guardian. In my eyes this two pronged approach influences officers to "police like champions" by utilizing their discretion with the highest levels of cultural competency. MPD officers are champions in every sense of the word: they want and are encouraged to continuously improve their cultural competency. Just like a champion, the MPD carefully analyzes every mistake and seeks to learn from it.
After reflecting on my internship I can only think one thing. Three months went by and I realized that I made the biggest fundamental attribution error in my whole entire life when judging the MPD off of social media and disproportionate statistics.
Intern Tom - Summer 2016