During the past several weeks, we have been witness to sobering incidents involving individuals using guns for everything from "sending a message," to damaging property, to causing bodily injury to people---including homicides. The rhyme or reasons for this rash of incidents defy logic, are citywide, and occurring at all times of the day. Our sensibilities have been shocked, our anxiety level elevated, our disdain is overwhelming, and our worst fears have been realized.
Too many "shots fired" calls (124 through 8/6; a 75% increase over last year's-to-date figures) and a record number of homicides (10) have left us questioning, criticizing and searching for "why?" If left unchecked, this current malaise we are collectively experiencing as a community can leave us numb and have us reeling wondering whether Madison has reached a point of no return?
Enough is enough. The City we are all committed to, the place where we live, go to school, go to worship, go to shop, and raise our kids, is worthy of fighting for. Community policing recognizes that the police cannot go it alone and requires the help and partnerships of our constituents---family by family, neighborhoods working collaboratively, clergy united, a school district committed to conflict resolution, not-for-profits and government officials coordinating efforts---everyone must understand and appreciate the sense of urgency we are all facing in the greater Madison area.
I have been to vigils and visitations. I have been to picnics, block parties, and prayer marches. No matter the setting, as Chief I hear the same refrain everywhere I turn--help us reclaim our City, Chief! We are hurting, Chief! What more can WE do is sometimes asked of me but it pales in comparison to many more pleas (and demands) asking MPD to do more. This blog is my attempt to make our plans at MPD both transparent as well as specific with respect to our intentions while this violence continues.
Positive engagement has been and always will be a staple of our DNA here at MPD. These efforts have consistently been a priority but now our efforts will be even more prolific and with a greater degree of visibility around identified "hot spots" as well as our customary neighborhood(s) presence. Officers selected for service at MPD were chosen on the basis of their willingness to take a "guardian's" mindset into the field and use both their God-given talents as well as the training(s) they have received to actively "engage/relate/listen/explain." As you see us, please remember that we are all working for a common goal: safe and thriving neighborhoods. Our greater presence is not meant or intended to have a chilling effect; in fact, quite the opposite. Our goals hope to achieve three things: 1) we are here to reassure residents that we stand ready to help them feel secure in their homes, 2) we are delivering a pointed response to those who use guns in violent ways across our City and 3) to recover guns from those who are in unlawful possession of them.
I constantly preach that there are phases or elements of policing that are seamlessly occurring on an everyday basis. We strive to build relationships, to prevent crime and disorder, to impose timely interventions in avoiding foreseeable harm, to suppress criminal behaviors that threaten others and to understand that we cannot ticket or arrest our way out of problems confronting our community; so there must be a multi-faceted approach to re-entry for those who have made poor decisions. Based on what is currently happening citywide, for a limited period of time MPD will continue to conduct business as our mission and core values dictate--but there will be more focused deterrence and arrest initiatives taking place.
For the next few weeks, individuals who have been identified and vetted as some of our most egregious offenders and gang members are going to be sought and separated from our midst. While there may not be sufficient evidence to charge these individuals with specific "shots fired" calls or a unique homicide, there is ample probable cause to arrest for other offenses. The common denominator is that all are currently wanted for various crimes or have holds entered by the Department of Corrections. Many are members of street gangs and we have knowledge that these individuals have access to guns, have threatened the use of guns or are hanging out with individuals who commit crimes with guns. A resounding message must be sent in clear and unequivocal terms: we know who you are---your ability to stay anonymous is no longer a luxury you can rely on and we are holding you accountable for your actions.
In looking at our current situation, I have come to the conclusion that there are four or five dozen people that are holding a city of a quarter of a million hostage to our fears. Whenever we have an incident command post following a serious shooting or homicide, I am always amazed that the same names keep coming up on every board! Sometimes they are friends of currently affected parties to the crime, sometimes they are family members, or have children in common, or have gang ties . . .but the overlapping spheres of connectedness are uncanny. Regrettably, our ability to work these various angles have previously met with limited success due to unwritten but understood street "codes of conduct," the desire to retaliate, or because of fear. We have to take affirmative steps to loosen this grip of silence--no matter what the rationale may be---in order to avoid even more bloodshed. Disrupting anonymity can also be accomplished with customized notifications in which we go to the homes of individuals that we believe are complicit in some way to these crimes and offer options as well as warn.
I wanted to share these thoughts in advance of this operation. The last thing we want at MPD is to create a misperception that there is a perpetual "blue blanket" that has been assembled to stop/ticket/arrest anything that looks remotely suspicious. That is simply not going to be the case. Also, this initiative will not be a pretext for any sort of profiling; MPD has never used this tactic and never will.
Currently there are a few dozen individuals who have caught our attention through information developed at shootings, intelligence obtained through our gang unit, or because of tips we have received. In effect, precise information has led us to specific individuals who are connected to crime. Some may recall that we launched a similar program back in the spring of 2015 in which twelve individuals were arrested over a 72-hour operation; in that particular year, we enjoyed a relatively calm summer from a standpoint of "shots fired" incidents.
As I was pondering the details of how this operation would come together, I learned of the passing of Coach Ara Parseghian. As a Notre Dame football fan, Coach Parseghian is an icon for me as he was hugely responsible for making Irish football relevant again and he led two of his teams to national championships. There is a quote from Parseghian in the locker room at ND that seems to be an eerily prophetic tone in describing the challenges facing our community: "The pride and the tradition of Notre Dame Football will not be left to the weak, timid, or non-committed." I think the same can be said for us as we resolve to reject the actions of those who think they can do whatever they want, wherever they want, whenever they want, with impunity. It will not be easy but we can do this, Madison!
From 5:30 a.m. on 08/09/2017 through 5:30 a.m. on 08/10/2017, MPD received 530 calls for service. This number does not include parking complaints or 911 misdials.
1) CENTRAL: Adult Arrested Person – 3:35 a.m. Officers were dispatched to the 600 block of E. Johnson Street reference the caller reporting that her boyfriend was being violent. Officers make contact with the caller/reporting party (35 year old female) and her boyfriend (40 year old WM). The male subject displays scratches to his chest and bite mark to his arm. He explains that the female suffers from an undiagnosed anger issue and that this morning she started to damage their residence when she became upset. The male subject attempted to restrain the female which resulted in his injuries. The female was arrested for domestic battery.
2) NORTH: Adult Arrested Person – 6:11 a.m. Officers were dispatched to the 1500 block of Troy Drive reference a domestic disturbance. The victim (20 year old HF) reported that she and the suspect (26 year old HM) were arguing when the suspect punched her in the face several times. The victim sustained minor injuries to her face/head. The suspect was located and arrested.
3) SOUTH: Adult Arrested Person – 8:27 a.m. Officers were dispatched to the 2300 block of S. Park Street reference a male chasing a female. Officers made contact with the male/suspect (27 year old AAM) and victim (37 year old AAF). The suspect became uncooperative and resists officers attempts to place him in handcuffs. Once handcuffed, the suspect continues to resist and threatens to kill officers. The suspect was arrested on several charges.
4) CENTRAL: Adult Arrested Person – 10:04 a.m. Officers were dispatched to the 300 block of Wisconsin Avenue where 15-20 people were involved in a disturbance. The suspect (20 year old Native American Female) was observed on video as approaching the victim (24 year old AAF) from behind, taking off her wig and swinging at her which instigated the disturbance. Both victim and suspect displayed minor injuries. The suspect was arrested.
5) SOUTH: Weapons Offense – 2:41 p.m. Officers were dispatched to the 2600 block of Post Road for two people fighting, one of which was armed with a gun. Officers located a subject matching the description provided by a witness. Officers attempted to contact the subject and he fled. Subject/suspect (17 year old AAM) was ultimately taken into custody and a positive identification by a witness was provided. The suspect stated he was not involved and that the sweatshirt he was wearing, that assisted in the ID was not his. Suspect was arrested for resisting and additional follow-up is being conducted regarding the disturbance. The suspect is on probation/parole out of Chicago and attempts were made to contact IL DOC.
6) NORTH: Burglary Residence – 4:30 p.m. Officers were dispatched to the 1600 block of Randy Lane for a non-residential burglary. The house was entered after the side door was kicked in and the home was ransacked. Marijuana was the only item to reportedly have been taken. Investigation continuing.
7) WEST: Drug Incident Overdose – 6:57 p.m. Officers were dispatched to the ramp from eastbound Beltline to Mineral Point Road for an unconscious male inside of a vehicle. MFD arrived and broke a car window to access the subject (23 year old MW) to provide him with medical assistance. The subject/suspect was administered Naloxone, transported to the hospital and processed for 1st offense OMVWI after it was discovered that he snorted oxy while driving.
8) NORTH: Attempted Armed Robbery – 8:14 p.m. Officers were dispatched to the 1900 block of Windom Way for a robbery. Two victims (HMs, ages 24 and 28) reported that two suspects (AAMs with their faces covered) attempted to rob them at gunpoint. No injuries or other suspect information. Investigation continuing.
9) WEST: Weapons Offense – 8:52 p.m. Officers were dispatched to the 2100 block of McKenna Blvd for a report of shots fired. One caller gave an address and apartment saying that they saw a flash in the apartment. Officers made contact with the residents and nothing was located.
10) WEST: Armed Robbery – 9:16 p.m. Officers were dispatched to the 6800 block of Park Ridge Drive. Victim (38 year old AAM) went to his car to retrieve an item when he reported that five AAMs in their late teens or early twenties robbed him. The victim reported that all of the suspects had guns and one was wearing a mask. The suspects went through the victim's pockets and took his wallet and cash. A description of the suspect vehicle was provided and the investigation is continuing.
11) WEST: Damage to Property – 9:26 p.m. Officers were dispatched to NBC 15 Studio to a report of damage to one of the large panes of glass that faces the Beltline. Initially it was thought the damage was caused by a bullet. Officers located an item described as a large bb (possibly a steel ball bearing shot from a wrist rocket).
12) WEST: Information – 12:25 a.m. Officers were dispatched to the 1900 block of Brittany Place for a report of the caller seeing 2 men dressed in all black including masks and gloves running through a parking lot with guns. The area was checked and nothing found.
13) CENTRAL: Accident with Injuries – 12:49 a.m. Five people were crossing the road at E. Washington at N. Baldwin Street when the last individual in line was struck by an inbound vehicle. The suspect vehicle did not stop. The victim (30 year old WM) was transported to the hospital with a broken ankle and a concussion. Investigation continuing.
14) WEST: Accident with Injuries – 1:13 a.m. Two motorcycles/drivers (HMs, ages 32 and 43 years of age) were headed north on S. Whitney Way when one driver slows down and the second driver runs into him. The driver that initially slowed down was arrested for 1st OMVWI. The second driver was unconscious and transported to the hospital for observation.