City of
Madison

District 1

Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney

Image of Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney

Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney

Contact Information

Home Address:

1209 Dayflower Drive
Madison , WI 53719

Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
WI Relay Service

Alder Harrington-McKinney’s Updates

October 6: Important Items on Tonight's Common Council Agenda

October 6, 2020 4:20 PM

Less than Lethal options - Sanctity of Human Life 

PUBLIC COMMENTS ARE IMPORTANT. 

There are three items that will come before the Common Council tonight. I have included some of the comments sent to All Alders. As Alders, we receive many comments on issues that come before us. I decided to share some of the emails we have received on the three items below. I chose to redact the names. 

Alder Harrington-McKinney. 

Item 63, Legistar Item 61250, SUBSTITUTE - Creating Section 5.17 of the Madison General Ordinances to prohibit the Madison Police Department from using tear gas, mace and impact projectile devices as crowd control measures. 

Item 64, Legistar Item 61252, ALTERNATE - Creating Section 5.18 of the Madison General Ordinances to establish procedures for the Madison Police Department to obtain property from the Defense Logistics Agency under the 1033 Program.

Item 65, Legistar Item 61265, SUBSTITUTE. Prohibiting the use of tear gas as of February 2, 2021, and requesting a study of alternatives by the Madison Police Department.

Public Testimony:

  • Written Comments: You can send comments on agenda items to allalders@cityofmadison.com
  • Register but Do Not Speak: You can register your support or opposition to an agenda item at https://www.cityofmadison.com/MeetingRegistration
    • 1033 is Agenda Item #64
  • Register to Speak or Answer Questions: If you wish to speak at the virtual meeting on an agenda item, you must register. You can register at https://www.cityofmadison.com/MeetingRegistration. When you register to speak, you will be sent an email with the information you will need to join the virtual meeting.
  • Watch the Meeting: You can call-in or watch the Common Council meeting in several ways:

IMPORTANT ON TONIGHT'S COMMON COUNCIL AGENDA 

# 63. 61250

# 65 61252

# 65. 61265

Proposed ordinances restricting MPD use of force options

Thanks for sending this. I can't speak to the effectiveness of CN or CS from a law enforcement perspective and will confine my opinions to the medical aspects of this discussion Dr. Sterken raises as evidence based medicine.  I spent some time, and have examined each of the articles Dr. Sterken quotes, and my responses to them are below. Please feel free to share.  

Please give me a call if you have any questions

Ash

1.     Tear gas is known to cause a variety of potentially severe short term (https://militaryhealth.bmj.com/content/161/2/94.longthis article states that "Significant clinical effects are not expected following the majority of exposures."  and long term (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25152930/This study focuses on subjects "frequently exposed" to these agents. It is more relevant for LE personnel than for those exposed due to civil unrest on an occasional basis. health effects, including chronic bronchitis, compromised lung function, and acute lung injury, per the ATS and the CDC (https://emergency.cdc.gov/agent/riotcontrol/factsheet.aspThis CDC site focuses on these issues when subjects are exposed due to large doses, in a closed setting.  In summary, these studies do not support the writer's opinions insofar as how CN or CS are used in crowd control settings.  

2.     In a military study, people exposed to tear gas had a 2.44 times greater risk of acquiring a respiratory illness such as influenza (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25003867/). No such study in COVID-19 currently exists, but given the similar modes of transmission, there is no reason to suspect that this would be different for COVID-19. This is a pretty good study, however it focuses on CS exposure in the military setting in basic training. I recall this from my own basic training, where we were placed into a tent and confined for a significant period of time, first with a mask, then without. In this study, they state the soldiers were exposed to levels of CS that were 25x the IDLH (Immediately Dangerous to Life and Health levels).  This is distinctly different to exposure in the street, especially where subjects are capable of fleeing from the gas at will.  I don't believe this study supports an increased likelihood of viral illness in subjects. 

3.     Tear gas and chemical irritants increase coughing and production of secretions (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5096012/), and coughing increases the spread of aerosols and droplets compared to breathing or talking (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK143281/). Droplets and aerosols are thought to be the primary modes of transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, so coughing from tear gas almost certainly would increase the potential for transmission of the virus. No question that increasing coughing / increased secretions will increase the likelihood of spreading disease IF and individual is currently infected with a viral pathogen. This would be particularly true if an individual is unmasked. 

 4.  Because COVID-19 patients often lose their sense of smell and their ability to sense chemical irritants (https://www.medrxiv.org/content/10.1101/2020.05.04.20090902v3), these patients may be at higher risk of inhaling more tear gas causing chemical injury. This statement is not supported by fact. As you are aware, CS and CN are not sensed by the olfactory (smell) system, but rather by the 5th cranial nerve as discomfort. One feels discomfort from these agents before one detects them as odors. A patient with total anosmia (loss of smell) is no more hampered in recognition of  CN or CS than a patient with normal smell sensation.  

5.     Tear gas is also an imprecise weapon which can harm bystanders, including members of the press and emergency medical personnel. Since tear gas contaminates the skin and clothing of its victims, it can cause secondary exposures of personnel in the hospital, potentially necessitating evacuations and closures of emergency departments (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15940103/).  No question that high doses of CS on clothing can result in secondary exposure to healthcare workers. I could not find this reference, as the electronic shelf in the library does not go back to 2005 for this journal.  This article (https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK544263/) however, suggests that it is "possible, but unlikely" that healthcare workers would suffer secondary exposure to riot control chemicals (CS). Standard decontamination protocols should be observed in the ER. I could not find any references to ER closures. To avoid this, medical personnel have to use additional personal protective equipment, which have been in short supply during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Ashley G. Anderson Jr., MD, MS
Medical Director-Madison Police Department
Cell:  608-335-0760
aganderson@cityofmadison.com

 

Correspondence Sent to The Attention of All Alders

Alders,

I have met many of you in person and have had good conversations along the way- with council members both past and present. I have worked alongside you in community meetings, worked hard to act in concert with city and community partners alike to achieve a greater harmony amongst our served populations, and have dedicated many hours to striving towards a fleeting notion of a utopian harmony between your city's police department and its citizenry. "The police are the public, and the public are the police." It's with this past work product and agenda in mind that I feel absolutely compelled to write in my comments on agenda items 63 and 65 on the council meeting agenda for 10/06/2020. 

I am fully cognizant that the topic of use of force by police officers is an area deserving of much objective scrutiny- to ensure that those who are entrusted with the lawful authority to use force do so with integrity, and only when absolutely necessary. As an officer in your city, I strive every day to be a force for good, and not have to encounter a situation where I have to employ the techniques and tools available to me as a Wisconsin certified law enforcement officer. I hope to retire from this profession many years from now having never had to be put into a situation where I will have been forced to make a deadly force decision.

With that in mind, I beg of you- please think ahead at the ramifications of an ordinance that removes less-than-lethal options for officers in the course of their duties. Police in this country have gone from being equipped with a flashlight, a night stick, and a gun to being equipped with numerous less lethal options as time has gone by. And with more tools on the belt, the more certain groups in the public view us as being "militarized." When in fact, the opposite is true. The numerous tools on our belt were borne out of a desire to find less forceful ways of accomplishing the mission of public safety. It means that we, as a profession and government, have increasingly become ever more cognizant that there are better ways in many situations than resorting to firing a lethal weapon.

We operate on a continuum for use of force decision making. Simply put, a subject's behaviors "A" and "B" may result in an officer being only able to use only hand strikes, holds, etc., whereas behaviors "C" and "D" may permit officers to use higher-level use force such as baton strikes and all the way up to use of deadly force. The use of Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) sprays and impact munitions fall relatively low on the Wisconsin-approved use of force continuum. If you remove an officer's less than lethal options, you are forcing them to move up to the next levels of force. It pains me that I cannot just assume that it's obvious why this is problematic.

Chemical Sprays

With regards to chemical sprays- it's one of the most effective methods of controlling a crowd which has crossed the line from peaceful and protected free speech into unlawful and violent. Just a few weeks ago, I stood on a line in hard gear and protected the Madison Fire Department while they were putting out massive dumpster fires. At one such fire, I saw looks of true terror on the faces of people in their apartments, and a young college-aged woman crying, as the dumpster underneath her window in her apartment went ablaze, and the nearby tree almost went up as well.

On the night the City-County Building was attacked, I heard a dispatcher crying as she dispatched that the rioters had just thrown a lit incendiary device into the building.

On the first major night of riots in our City, I stood on the front line and took a grapefruit sized rock to my helmet, which was taken out of the bottom of the planters lining State Street. That same night, I took a baseball sized rock to the ankle, which caused a black bruise around my entire lower leg.

I have worked protests where innocent drivers have been intentionally blocked into traffic- with their children in the car- and verbally accosted by protesters screaming their plights.

I have sat outside numerous elected officials homes as protesters have antagonized neighborhoods. In one such case, the protesters saw a light turn on inside their targeted home and assumed it was the person they were there for refusing to come out- when in reality, that person was not home, and it was his young children home alone instead. Again- terrified.

These are just a few of the situations that have been allowed to take place in the City since the George Floyd murder protests and riots have started. And if chemical sprays were not at our disposal to help us disperse an unruly crowd in the instances they turn violent, the city would be truly looking at anarchist behaviors that would have destroyed the city center even more than what we've seen- and where the public- officers and citizens alike- get hurt or worse. Without the use of chemical sprays in our less than lethal options, we may be forced to employ even harsher uses of force to protect ourselves and innocent bystanders. Again, this should not be anything other than obvious.

Impact Projectiles

Much of what I have said above applies to impact munitions, so I will not repeat myself. But I do want to point something monumentally important with regards to impact munitions- the role they play in mental health crises.

I have seen and heard from numerous community stakeholders, and many of you, about the importance of mental health care in our city. One of the most frustrating things on the topic that I hear is that the Madison Police Department isn't trained and shouldn't be responding to mental health crises. In many cases, I agree- we should not. But to categorically deny the fact that true crises exist- including violent ones- is shortsighted. The fact is that on a daily basis, your police department is recognized as a national leader in the area of bridging the gap between mental health response and police. We have embedded mental health professionals working alongside specially trained officers, whose primary goal- every day- is to divert those suffering mental illness away from the justice system and into treatment. But in addition- please be aware- that your department's officers do receive more mental health training than others, and that our response to mental health crises/true emergencies is influenced by that training.

But where do impact munitions play a role in this? Good question- because to an untrained eye or ear, it may be difficult to make that connection. But the fact of the matter is that your Madison Police Department has had many instances- just in the past year alone- where our less than lethal impact munitions have prevented a person going through crises from committing suicide or commiting harm against others. Without the option available, there is a much higher likelihood that lethal force may be used in those situations. That option is one of the simple ways for a potentially deadly situation to be intentionally and quickly de-escalated.

I know you all have a political preference in the way you handle yourselves as an elected official. But with great respect to all of your opinions- I hope that you realize this email details objective truths about less lethal options for police, rather than trying to play or deny you your personal or political truths.

I am out there every day, as a supervisor, and as a member of your Special Events Team on the front lines of both the peaceful protests and the violent riots- and there is a difference. I am not a thoughtless thug following instructions blindly without regard for our core values of service, leadership, integrity, community partnerships, continuous improvement, human dignity, and diversity in mind. I have a family I prefer to go home safe each night, and I strive to ensure that everyone I deal with is safe each night, as well.

Please do not let this potential ordinance pass based on a desire to eliminate "ugly" use of force instances, because it's empirically false that it will have that effect. Reality is that use of force is needed more often than any of us want it to be- and usually, it's not pretty to watch. We don't have the luxury of taking political optics into account in those split second moments, though. And until you suit up and get out here to see what it's actually like, please don't just assume we are malintended and looking for a fight- none of us want that. At all. Let us use the tools we have at our disposal to strive for the least ugly outcome possible on every call.

Thank you for your time,

Name Redacted for confidentiality 

###

I understand that the city council will again be considering proposals to restrict MPD's use of less lethal force options.  I am concerned that these proposals are based on emotional reactions to current events and upsetting videos and will result in serious unintended consequences, including increased risk of officer involved shootings.

I have been an officer with MPD for 22 years, have been a grenadier on the Special Events Team since its creation and am an instructor for less lethal impact munitions and chemical agents.  Regarding less lethal impact projectiles, it has never been the policy or practice of MPD since I have been here to use these tools for crowd control or to move a crowd.  In crowd control situations we have only used these to stop violent or assaultive behavior.  This would include people throwing rocks or pushing burning dumpsters at officers, both situations I have personally been involved in this year.  Without these tools we would have no means to stop these attacks on officers (other than deadly force which was not justified in these particular circumstances) as the subjects were beyond the range of our pepper spray canisters and it was unsafe to approach them due to a hostile crowd.

In a non crowd control context, less lethal impact munitions can safely resolve challenging and risky incidents.  When I started with MPD we did not have these options.  If we were confronting, for example, a person armed with a knife our options were extremely limited for controlling that person.  Tasers are only effective to around 20 feet, pepper spray even less, and both options would put us dangerously close to a subject who could then stab officers.  Less lethal impact munitions are a huge improvement because we can deliver that force at a safer distance and reduce the chance of a deadly force encounter.

Regarding tear gas, this has already been exhaustively studied and it is safe and humane.  The idea that there is a better, safer option to disperse a violent crowd is false and compelling MPD to research other methods is a waste of time and resources.  I have personally been exposed to tear gas dozens of times in training and in real world incidents.  It is unpleasant by design, but its effects dissipate within a few minutes of exposure to fresh air.  No other less lethal option gives us the ability to safely disperse so many people without any permanent effects.  I can not speak for other agencies but MPD has always been extremely judicious in its use of tear gas and has only done so in my experience after giving people multiple warnings and ample time to leave the area.  Pepper spray is not nearly as effective for crowd control because its range and area of effect is much more limited.  Any ban on tear gas would increase the risk for both officers and people in violent crowds and jeopardize or eliminate our ability to control these crowds. 

Pepper spray is similarly beneficial for officers in that it gives us a way to control a person without injuring them and to deliver force from a distance.  Taking a way pepper spray from our field officers would force officers to resort to punches, kicks and baton strikes instead, likely increasing injuries to both officers and suspects.

These less lethal options bridge the gap between lower levels of force and deadly force.  I have not heard of any proposals that would limit MPD's response to dangerous and volatile situations throughout the city.  Taking away the tools to address these situations while still asking officers to deal with them is dangerous and shortsighted.  It is difficult for me to understand why, in a climate where officer involved shootings are being scrutinized like never before, anyone would advocate for prohibiting police from using the very tools which can help limit the times when deadly force it needed.I hope the council carefully considers whether these changes would lead to better or worse outcomes.

Respectfully submitted

Name redacted by Alder 

###

Good morning city alders,

I wanted to let you know my concerns about the upcoming common council meeting being held on 10-06-20. I am a police officer with the City of Madison and have been employed with the city for 4 years. Prior to that I was a police officer in a suburb of Milwaukee. I have 12 years of experience as a police officer.

The upcoming vote to ban the prohibit use of tear gas, mace, and impact projectiles (items 63 and 65) in Madison is very short-sighted. If you take away these tools you will leave limited options for police to use.  Other options could be a baton or a worst-case scenario of deadly force. 

Madison police have successful used less lethal options several times in high stress situations where a citizen was safely taken into police custody. If you take away these tools the police will either have to resort to other options such as deadly force or walk away and put the lives of citizens in jeopardy.

At my previous agency we did not have all the less lethal options that Madison Police Department does. MPD combines less lethal tools with  de-escalation  to resolve situations. MPD is one of the most progressive department in WI if not the nation. Taking these tools away will make MPD become a run of your mill police department. With all of these changes certain members of the common council are trying to impose on MPD, this agency will soon become a filled with uneducated police who do not care about the community because elected officials are putting themselves and politics ahead of the community and the police who are guardians to the community. 

If the elected officials do not make some common sense decisions, the city of Madison will be faced with a mass exodus of police officers. It is already true that policing is seeing its challenges in regard to attracting new officers (according to a 2018 statistic, applicants for Madison police has dropped more than 40% over the last 5 years). 

Please re-consider what the impact of your decision will not only have on the police department but the community as a whole.  

I have never sent so many emails to the common council regarding upcoming meetings and the only Alder who has ever responded is Alder Skidmore. So thank you Alder Skidmore for taking the time to respond.

Alderman Max Prestigiacomo and Alder Kemble you are introducing proposal 63, I would welcome a discussion with you to see why you think this would solve any of the problems in our community.

###

Thanks, Name redacted by Alder

My name is (name redacted by Alder) I have been a Madison Police Officer for 21 years.  There have been many times over those years that I have seen pepper spray and impact projectiles bring a situation to an end with no long term injury to the officers and citizens involved.  This has been especially true in situations involving a mental health crisis where individuals are trying to harm themselves.  It gives officers a non-deadly option while also maintaining a safe distance.  It only makes sense to give officers the most non-deadly options possible to help resolve a s

Attempted Fire Bombing of CCB  During Downtown Rioting 

At the scene, police also found a clear plastic water bottle with a burned wick in the neck of the bottle, outside the CCB. 

The fire set off an alarm and was quickly extinguished. In addition to city and county government offices and the Madison Police Department, it houses the Dane County 911 Center, part of the Dane County Jail and the Dane County Juvenile Detention Center. 

At the time the fire was set, there were 250 people in the CCB, including 182 adults and juveniles being held in the jail, according to the affidavit. Damage to building and clean-up was estimated to be at $105.000. 

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Hello Alders,

I am writing to you as a citizen of Madison to urge you to vote "NO" to agenda items 63 and 65 in tomorrow's meeting.

I am very concerned about what would happen to the safety of the people in our community if the police were not allowed to use tear gas or other less-lethal tools. For example, as we all know, President Trump told white supremacists to "stand back and stand by" in regard to the results of the election. We have been very lucky in our city that, as of now, we have not had any clashes between opposing groups, but what would happen if the Proud Boys (or another white supremacy group) were to come down to the capitol and engage in clashes with other groups? This would be a time that tear gas would be a good tool to have in order to be able to deescalate a potentially very violent situation. This exact situation has recently played out in Portland, causing Governor Kate Brown to have to make an emergency order where the police could use tear gas. Here is a quote from a New York Times's article referencing this situation, 

"But on Friday, Ms. Brown used emergency powers to order that Superintendent Hampton and the local sheriff take control of public safety in the city for the weekend. That decision will restore the use of tear gas, even for Portland police officers, and Superintendent Hampton said the city would see a "massive influx" of state troopers."

Also, I have concerns that if there is large scale violence in Madison, and our police officers don't have access to the appropriate tools to deescalate it, then we would be subject to state or federal law enforcement stepping in, and then we would lose local control over the response. 

I appreciate you reading this and the time that you're investing into this important issue. 

Name Redacted for confidentiality 

Here is the link to the New York Times' article about Portland:

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.nytimes.com/2020/09/25/us/portland-proud-boys-antifa-protests.amp.html

###

I will be brief. I am opposed to Agenda items 63, 64, and 65.  It makes no sense to ban something before you have studied other options. Banning tools that are less lethal ties MPD's hands placing the public and officers at greater risk..Banning the tools that MPD can use to stop a violent crowd  is an invitation to bring in Federal intervention as was done in Portland. MPD has shown more restraint in their response than almost any other police department in the country. We should be thanking them not placing them, and our community in an impossible position. At a time when budgets are strained city wide we should not be doing anything that might increase our costs.

Sincerely,

Name redacted for confidentiality 

###

Retired detective arrested for domestic violence in Juneau County after 3-hour standoff ended by CS gas, police say a retired Milwaukee police detective was arrested in the town of Lyndon for domestic violence after allegedly hitting and choking a woman to the point she passed out, followed by resisting arrest in a more than three-hour standoff which led police to use CS gas, forcing him from a residence

###

My name is (Name redacted for confidentiality) and I am a Police Officer for the City of Madison. I am writing today utilizing my personal time and email address to express my genuine concern about the dangerous proposal put forward by alders Max Prestigiacomo and Rebecca Kemble. 

While I understand that 2020 has been a difficult year for relations between the police and the public that we serve, the response should not be to make the job of policing more dangerous and more likely to have to utilize deadly force. 

The proposal to remove impact munitions and OC spray from the cadre of police tools is not only dangerous for MPD officers, but for the public. Removing these tools from officers will result in less ways to safely take control of a subject or situation without utilizing deadly force. 

In recent months, MPD has successfully taken several subjects into custody using less lethal tools. It is never our hope to use these tools, and voluntary compliance is always desired. However, in many extreme cases, this is not an option. For instance, a homicide suspect was taken into custody utilizing a taser (which could be next on the chopping block) and a hostage taker with a knife was subdued by impact munitions. This was merely two "high profile," calls earlier this year which display the immense successes of less lethal tools. I would be highly doubtful that these situations would have played out in the same way without the availability of the tools you are seeking to eliminate from our Department. 

By removing the option for MPD to have these tools, you would also be removing MPD from being in line with Wisconsin Defense and Arrest Tactics training. This training, much like the "8 Can't Wait," proposals that have been popular lately, utilize a scale and range of use of force tools. By removing these intermediate less lethal options, the City must recognize that it is pushing MPD further away from its own progressive goals of de-escalation, and out of line with best practices as recognized by the State of Wisconsin.

It is my hope that, if the City is insistent on doing this, there is recognition that officers should not be liable when they have to escalate force to a higher level in defense of self or others because they lack intermediate options. Conversely I would also hope that the City would recognize that, if that is not a reasonable concession, that officers should not respond to such situations where force would be used. Both of these seem unlikely, as I would assume that hostage situations and homicide scenes would still be where Police are wanted and needed by victims and the public. 

Please, utilize common sense and not "gut reactions," in governing. The latter is in poor taste and is likely to cause a tremendous ripple effect of harm to this City and to MPD. 

Sincerely,

Name Redacted for Confidentiality 

###

I support holding law enforcement accountable.

I support clear rules on use of means of control.  

I support tracking data involving non lethal means of control including victim race/ethnicity, officer(s) involved, internal/supervisory review findings, etc.

I suppprt study of alternative non-lethal means of control.

I do not support limiting the range of non-lethal tools available to law enforcement unless suitable alternatives are identified.  In my opinion, Limiting non-lethal means increases the likelihood that a lethal intervention will be used.

Name Redacted for confidentiality 

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Council President Carter and members of the Madison Common Council.

Use of force by LE in the United States is a complex issue.  As national and local level government bodies, LE agencies, media and the citizenry are calling for review and reform of practices in this area,  a quick decision in this arena has potential for devastating results.  As the Council has discussion, listens to input, reviews research and may ultimately make decisions about less than lethal options the Madison Police employs in our community, I urge the focus of all the efforts in this arena remain on the sanctity of human life.

I know from direct professional experience the MPD researched the use of, and employs training and SOP's related to impact projectiles under the sanctity of life concept.  There are multiple recent examples (please see other officers e-mails which document some of those) of less than lethal options/tools coupled with our training and decision making which have saved lives in Madison.  Below is a link to a publication from the Police Executive Research Forum (the same non-profit organization currently being utilized by the City of Madison to assist in the selection process of our next Chief).  This publication highlights the complex issues surrounding less than lethal options in Law Enforcement.  You will find the publication points towards the sanctity of human life as a central feature of less than lethal options, training and implementation.  These tools are an integral part of de-escalation and provide the all-important ability to gain time and distance, during a rapidly evolving situation, for police to make critical decisions.

I would encourage the Council also takes it time making a decision on item 65 of your agenda.  The Council recently passed and put together an Office of Police Monitor and a Police Civilian Review board.  I would respectfully ask you to consider tabling this discussion and allow the Monitor and Board to review and look into less than lethal options for the Madison Police Department.  The ordinance enacting the Monitor and Board require the members to be trained in and have an understanding of all the complexities involved in use of force issues in Policing. 

https://www.policeforum.org/assets/LessLethal.pdf

Respectfully,

 Name Redacted for confidentiality 

###

Good Evening:

First, I would like to thank you for your attention and consideration of the opinion I am setting forth on this matter.  I should note that I am not a citizen of Madison but rather a close neighbor in Middleton.  I am also a police officer who joined the department after spending nearly twenty years in the commercial finance sector.  I opted to become a law enforcement officer as a way to help this great community to stay great.  I and my colleagues are committed to upholding the law for all and ensuring those who should and need to be heard can be.  

I spent most of my life in southeastern Michigan near Detroit and then 11 years in Phoenix, Arizona.  It was not until 2011 that I moved to Madison and lived within the city until just this year.  I moved to Madison because I had read, heard, and experienced how amazing a city it was, continues to be, and could stay.  Madison is progressive, of course, but more importantly it is represented best by its culture of caring.   This is a city that is committed to equality, equity, and progress.  When confronted with the realities that some of its practices are failing the community admits to it and proceeds to find new and better ways.  This is a community that is unafraid to admit mistakes, failures, and shortcomings.  This is also a community that is committed to change for the better.

 

That stated I am appalled at these agenda items which run completely counter to all that I have come to understand about Madison.  At a time when police violence is the hot topic I cannot fathom how this committee could even contemplate removing a tool or tools used to de-escalate potential violent situations.  By removing OC, tear gas, and non-lethal projectiles from the tools police have available the choices are simply to either walk away and allow criminals to have free reign or to take physical steps which could result in actual serious injuries to either the suspects, the police, or both.  

Please note, highlight, and remember when I state "actual serious injuries".  I state this because these tools have proven to result in little to no risk of long term serious injury.  They may be uncomfortable but they create temporary inconveniences, not long term impairment.  Moreover, removing a non-lethal option and forcing the officers to use physical alternatives when appropriate increases the likelihood of injury to not only the community but to law enforcement officers as well.  If the city is looking to demolish its already battered budget via a plethora of lawsuits from citizens and workers compensation claims from injured officers in lieu of useful investment in communities in need, then please approve item 63.    

With all that in mind I can come to only one conclusion.  The alders introducing this agenda item intend to create a situation in which a reasonable officer acting within the scope of his or her obligation will have to resort to physical violence possibly up to deadly force when attempting to uphold the laws these same alders, not to mention the state legislature, have put in place.  What better way to achieve the objective of proving that police are violent than to force their hand?  I have yet to see any comprehensive or even slightly convincing argument as to how OC, tear gas, and impact projecticles have in any way increased use of force and moreover how these alternatives to physical options is medically more harmful.  I can only assume that the alders prefer baton strikes and gunshot wounds to a temporary level of discomfort or, again, would prefer to see someone permanently injured or killed in order to further their agenda of removing police altogether from the equation.  

If that is the objective then please be honest with us all.  I would prefer to hear the truth that my services are no longer needed than be put into an untenable position in which someone, including me or one of my amazing colleagues, is forced to do something that is life changing all for the sake of a political stance.  I am here to uphold the law.  I am here to protect the community and to preserve the peace.  I am here to ensure the unheard have a voice.  But I am not here to be a scapegoat for an agenda that undermines the system of law and order.  

Sincerely,

Name Redacted for confidentiality 

###

To the Madison Common Council,

Greetings.

My name Name Redacted and I am African-American, whom has been serving on the Madison Police Dept for the last 26 years.

We were made aware that the City Council will be voting on a measure to prohibit police from utilizing less-lethal munitions such as OC and impact projectiles.

Please do NOT pass this measure. 

I have been directly involved in countless situations where the suspect has been armed and or been violent. The ability for us to utilize less-lethal options, such as OC spray and foam impact projectiles has allowed us to take those suspects into custody without having to escalate to greater uses of force.

I would direct you to a recent incident under MPD 20-351383 stemming from an incident that happened on Sept 27th, 2020. A citizen called in during the afternoon, that they saw a man walking on Milwaukee St, in the 4400 block near the children's school carrying a large knife and looked like he was about to harm someone.

I was the first Officer there, he indeed had a large knife, appeared to have self-inflicted wounds, and would not stop walking nor would he drop the knife when ordered to do so by us.

Thankfully, we had less-lethal options available and were able to present less-lethal measures to take him into custody safely with no harm to him, Officers nor citizens for the purposes of a mental health evaluation (Journey mental health knew this individual and immediately considered him a threat to the community and the person is still in confined in a mental health facility.)

I ask you, if we did not have less-lethal options available how were we supposed to take an armed individual into custody without being forced literally to use higher force options (including deadly force) which we want to avoid.

It is shameful that we, the police, have to plead with our own Common Council to allow us to continue to use less-lethal modalities in order not to resort to greater force both in dealing with individual citizens/ situations as well as large group incidents.

With respect,

Name Redacted 

###

Dear alders, 

 

I live at (redacted) and I am writing to urge you to restore Item 64 to the version 1 wording that prevents MPD from getting any equipment from the 1033 program. I do not support the MPD gaining access to any military-grade weapons or surveillance equipment. This program erodes trust between the police and the community.

Sincerely,

Name Redacted 

###

I am emailing you today to demand you vote against the current recommendations to the 1033 program that (1) still allow procurement of lethal tools, (2) allow MPD to procure supplies under 50k without Council approval first, and (3) only restrict MPD from procuring tear gas, bayonets, grenade launchers, grenades, explosives, armor-piercing firearms, and ammunition, tracked combat vehicles and weaponized drones. 

Tonight, Alder Max Prestigiacomo will be introducing an amendment to fully sever the link between MPD and the 1033 program. I urge you to vote in favor of this amendment and an absolute ban of the 1033 program. Allowing for dangerous exceptions that allow the MPD to purchase and utilize military grade weapons directly fuels the Military Industrial Complex in Madison. This is a small, yet effective way for Madison to protect its citizens, especially those belonging to marginalized communities, and your vote to ban the 1033 program will be greatly appreciated. 

Sincerely, 
Name Redacted 

###

The Body-Worn Camera Feasibility Review Committee will be receiving presentations from the DA's Office, the Public Defender's Office, and NAMI of Dane County about body-worn cameras at their meeting on October 8. Find the meeting details online here. At their last meeting, the BWC Committee received a presentation by the City of Milwaukee and the experience of the City with Body Worn Cameras by Milwaukee Police Department. 



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