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District 1

Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney

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Alder Barbara Harrington-McKinney

Contact Information

Home Address:

1209 Dayflower Dr

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


June 16, 2016 9:38 AM






My "yes" vote on fully funding the Police Department Policy and Procedure Review Study at the Common Council meeting of Tuesday, June 7. The resolution calls for providing $350,000 in addition to the $50,000 already budgeted, for a total of $400,000 to pay for a study of the Madison Police Department's policies and procedures. The resolution was approved by the Common Council with 19 members voting "yes" and one member voting "no."
As a council we did not take this vote lightly. This was never intended as a referendum against the police department nor Police Chief Koval.  The council established this Ad Hoc committee in May 2015 following the death of young Tony Robinson. The community meetings held following his death demanded council action, the independent Ad Hoc committee was then formed to make recommendations to the council. The vote was to support the committee's recommendation. Police are public servants performing an enormous service to the public safety of the citizens of this community.  After significant research, the committee determined the cost of comparative study models. We have a stellar police department, we all support that. However, we must be completely transparent in assessing which police policies&procedures work well, which P&P's can be made even better. We also recognized that it was important to renew the sense of trust and respect for our police department within our very diverse communities of color. We look to the findings/recommendations/implementation of the independent study to move us finally from the shadow of "the two Madison's".

I read all emails received, both supporting and opposing the resolution. The comments, both from District 1 residents and those addressed to ALL ALDERS; they ran the gamut from thoughtful and reasonable to harsh and slanderous. I read everyone's comments. As a public servant, I would like to thank all who took time to express their opinions. 

While many of our constituents have a high level of trust in our police department, it is a reality that this feeling of trust is not shared equally in many of our communities of color. These communities also include middle-class, law-abiding black and brown constituents who are fearful and distrustful of the police force.  The study, while I agree is costly, will highlight our departments strengths and provide recommendations to help move us out of the shadow of the "two Madison's.  The study must be transparent and independent. 

Last year the Madison Common Council formed the Madison Police Department Policy and Procedure Ad Hoc Committee (ad hoc means temporary). It was charged with leading a study of the Police Department's policies and procedures. $50,000 was budgeted to hire a consultant for the task. This amount was grossly under estimated. The committee held an organization meeting last November and its first full meeting in December. The committee has 14 citizen members, and the co-chairs are Luis Yudice, who is a retired Madison Police Officer and Captain with 31 years of dedicated police service, and Christian Albouras, who works at Summit Credit Union in marketing. As the committee began research into the cost of a comprehensive study comparable to  our city population,  the committee found that $50,000 was inadequate to hire consultants for a study of the magnitude requested; $250,000 to $400,000 would be needed for the comprehensive study. The resolution provided funding for the comprehensive study. 

The draft Request for Proposals (RFP) for the study, provides the following background information: "The City of Madison, through the Madison Police Department Policy and Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee, seeks proposals for an expert(s) to conduct a comprehensive review of Madison Police Department's (MPD) policies, procedures, practices, culture, and training to obtain an understanding of the current status of the Madison Police Department, and to identify places for improvement and means of improvement. This includes determining how to improve outcomes in a number of specific areas including, but not limited to, elimination of racial disparities in treatment of residents and disproportionate contact with youth of color, minimization of use of force, dealing optimally with people with mental health problems or who are under the influence of alcohol or other drugs, optimal understanding of and responses to culturally-related behavioral variations, and respecting rights of civilian witnesses. The City of Madison and the Madison Police Department are committed to implementing changes necessary to be a national leader in urban policing and to restore community trust."

Funding for the study will not come out of the Police Department Budget. As a way of comparison, however, the Madison Police Department budget for 2016 is $67,000,000 ($67 million) and $400,000 is about one-half of one percent of that amount.

Funding for the study will come out of the Contingent Reserve, money for unforeseen expenses during the year. City Finance Director advised Council  that if there were major snow storms or other unexpected occurrences, we might have difficulties later in the year, that we should be careful with spending more money from the Contingent Reserve, but did not strongly advocate against the spending.

Whether supporting or not supporting  the vote on this issue, it is my hope that this detailed information has helped you to understand that my yes vote was to support the investment in Madison's future. 


June 15, 2016 1:18 PM
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!

Posted by: Chief Koval
  Tag: Chief Koval

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