Certainly some of the news involving law enforcement this summer has been difficult reading. If we only dash from headline to headline, we'd think there wasn't a shred of goodness left in the world. But lost in all the news that is tragic, controversial or otherwise headline-making is the work our officers are doing on an everyday basis.
It's nothing new that the Madison Police Department is dedicated to positive engagement with all segments of our community. However, the need to continue those efforts has perhaps never been greater than it is now. As Chief Koval has said, it is not time to hunker down but rather time to double down on our commitment to community-oriented, problem solving policing. With these things in mind, our officers have been very busy with not just everyday law enforcement efforts but with finding meaningful ways to build greater connections with the community we are dedicated to serve. The following are just a few examples of the good works happening in the North District.
Last month, North District Captain Lengfeld declared, "June is foot patrol month". Although we often try to get out of our squad cars, the Captain's June challenge inspired more officers to get out of the car and be more available to our constituents. There is nothing like those face-to-face meetings to help break down barriers and decrease suspicions. No doubt the example set in June will last far beyond a single month.
Summer weather also brought out the first installment of last year's very successful Guerrilla Grillers. So far this year we have hosted three of these pop-up tailgate parties. If you spot the squad car, smell the BBQ smoke and see the officer with burger flipper in hand, be sure to stop by. Keep on the lookout for a spontaneous cookout in your neighborhood.
In response to a very thoughtful and thought provoking "thread" on the NextDoor.com website, officers hosted a Coffee With a Cop event at the Warner Park Community and Recreation Center. The coffee and conversation was very much appreciated by those who attended. We will very likely host similar roundtables with our partners at WPCRC in the future. We also appreciate the potential of sites like NextDoor to help build community and to serve as a sort of electronic neighborhood watch program. It is worth a look.
We also continue to encourage folks to act as hosts for our Fireside Five-Oh, Living Room Conversations. A program that was begun in the North District has now expanded city-wide. A Fireside Five-Oh is a chance for friends, family, neighbors and your police officers to come together in a relaxed setting to better get to know each other as real people. Contact us for information on how to get involved.
Earlier this month our officers joined Madison School and Community Recreation in a family friendly Read-Up! Designed to encourage better reading habits among our elementary and middle school kids, the program visited Lakeview Elementary. The cops and kids all had a great time and we thank MSCR for including us.
Most recently our very own Officer Alexandra Nieves-Reyes organized and coordinated a hugely successful Family Fun Day at the East Madison Neighborhood Center. The center serves families in the Truax neighborhood. Earlier this year the neighborhood acted on a unique opportunity to partner with other social service agencies, most notably Road Home of Dane County, in providing new housing to a large number of previously homeless families. The Fun Day event was geared toward welcoming the new families and to helping to inspire a sense of community for all the residents.
The news above reminds us that not all is wrong with the world. We can always find goodness and good people doing good things everyday if we are willing to look and if we're willing to get involved. We know that there is work to be done in building and maintaining trust. We are committed to continuous improvement in all that we do. You can count on us to continue that work.
PO David Dexheimer
North District Neighborhood Resource Officer