I want to take this opportunity to put some closure on days leading up to and concluding with the meeting of the Common Council on 6/7.
Whenever a topic has a nexus to the Madison Police Department or there are issues that are affecting the morale of our workforce, one can expect that I will be speaking up (or out). Most of the time, the subject slated for debate involves issues that relate to "procurement" . . .whether it be a Midtown District Station or the need to add more cops. And this Department's needs, in those domains, have largely been supported by our Council---for which I am extremely grateful. In these brutal days of fiscal austerity, the Council is put in the unenviable position of sifting, winnowing, and triaging very difficult budgetary priorities.
From time to time, however, there will be disagreement(s). We will not find common ground on everything. Debate can be rigorous, heated, passionate, and animated. A vote is ultimately taken, a decision is made, and you move forward. Whatever concerns I may have raised as to "timing" or "cost" of an independent study were emphatically answered with a 19-1 vote. There is nothing more to debate here; the community--through our elected public officials, has deemed this study a compelling need and an appropriate expenditure. Period. MPD has fully embraced the decision and will provide whatever data and staff resources that are requested in order to ensure that the parameters of the RFP are met.
In the hours leading up to the study's vote, I heard several comments from Council members that indicated my blog and public comments expressing my opinion(s) regarding the study or my concerns about the lack of demonstrable support for the MPD during critical times were off-putting and divisive. That certainly was not my intention when I wrote the blog or responded to questions; so I apologize to those who suffered hurt feelings. I would much prefer to build consensus than come across as "contentious," but I also cannot be expected to remain silent with matters affecting our Department and officer morale.
I hope we can move on from here. I have met with Council Leadership and will continue to do so on a regular basis. My office has extended an open invitation to any alder wishing to meet with me over issues concerning the City, their District(s), or me. Clearly, there is more time needed for me to perfect another "p" of chiefly duties . . procurement, policies, personnel and "politics." :)
No one ever set out on a campaign to call out any individual alders and I never did. Nothing I have witnessed in my past two years would suggest that these folks aren't well-intentioned, hard working, elected officials trying to do the right thing for constituents. At the same time, I am trying to do my level best in fulfilling my responsibilities as the Chief of Police to inform our alders of MPD's thoughts in providing the most compelling services needed in our community and to also advocate for the concerns felt by the women and men of this organization. Obviously, the business of "governing" can get messy at times. That's not so bad, in many cases. People get a deeper dive into the issues of the day, can ask more questions, and have the chance to get more involved in the policy decisions that affect their lives.
I write this blog to reassure our residents that MPD and the Council have very functional working relationships throughout all of our Districts. Alders routinely access District Command Staff for chronic problems, requests for additional assistance, specific constituent needs, and updates on what is trending. For our part, we try to keep Alders apprised of noteworthy events within 2 hours of the call, attend meetings, and prioritize the needs of the alders---knowing that they are bringing us important constituent issues that we want to address, collaboratively.
In closing, I want to thank all of those people who wrote, phoned, emailed, and sent us comments via Facebook their unequivocal support of the Madison Police Department. Our officers have told me how deeply appreciative they are to all of those residents who have taken the time and made the effort to acknowledge the challenges officers face each day. Clearly, your collective praises have buoyed the spirits of our selfless guardians and I am deeply indebted to you for your encouragement and kindness!