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District 19

Alder Keith Furman

Image of Alder Keith Furman,
Council President

Alder Keith Furman,
Council President

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Council Office

Common Council Office:
210 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd
Room 417
Madison, WI 53703
Phone: (608) 266-4071
Fax: (608) 267-8669
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District 19 Blog

2020 Budget and Madison Police Department

November 6, 2019 8:11 AM

I wanted to share some information to correct some incorrect narratives floating around our community about funding in the proposed 2020 Budget for our excellent Madison Police Department (MPD).

Proposed 2020 Budget

In the 2020 budget, MPD will see a $5M increase (6.5%). This increase would have been even higher if the expense to cover Parking Enforcement Officers (PEO) wasn't moved into the Parking Utility for 2020.

2019 2020 Executive Budget Increase Percentage
$76,748,435 $81,727,699 $4,979,264.00 6.49%
$76,748,435 $82,605,699* $5,857,264.00 7.63%

* = Increase if PEO expense was still part of MPD's budget.

2020's increase continues a trend of increased investment in MPD. 2020 marks the biggest increase over the last 10 years by a wide margin.

  Operating Budget Increase % of Budget
2010 $58,736,840   24.49%
2011 $60,545,621 $1,808,781 24.39%
2012 $60,721,601 $175,980 24.02%
2013 $63,498,991 $2,777,390 23.77%
2014 $64,335,609 $836,618 23.33%
2015 $66,313,359 $1,977,750 23.42%
2016 $67,512,205 $1,198,846 23.32%
2017 $69,789,912 $2,277,707 23.24%
2018 $73,530,279 $3,740,367 23.36%
2019 $76,748,435 $3,218,156 23.11%
2020 $81,727,699** $4,979,264 24.01%

** = Proposed without PEO (Proposed with PEO would be $82,605,699)

The 2020 MPD budget increase includes employee contractual increases (3.25% base increase, longevity steps, education incentives, etc.), 4 police officers previous paid for by grants coming fully onto the city budget and an increase in overhire (more on overhiring below). 

Crime stats

There are many factors that have helped, including the excellent work of MPD and continued investment by the City of Madison in the community, but Madison has seen a decrease crime rate. For its size, Madison remains a fairly safe city. 

Violent crime rate in 2006 = 4.38 per 1000
Violent crime rate in 2018 = 4.04 per 1000
7.8% decrease

Property crime rate in 2006 = 33.7 per 1000
Property crime rate in 2018 = 22.9 per 1000
32% decrease

Total crime rate in 2006 = 38.1 per 1000
Total crime rate in 2018 = 30.0 per 1000
21.2% decrease

(All numbers are from the Uniform Crime Report (maintained by the Department of Justice).)

The latest Q3 quarterly report from MPD generally shows a decrease from the same time as last year.

This information isn't intended to imply the job of police has gotten easier or imply crime doesn't happen in Madison, but to make it clear that we aren't experiencing an epidemic of crime. Again, Madison remains a fairly safe city. 


Like all other departments in the city, MPD continues to compete for limited budgetary funds. This year, I'm not surprised to see the MPD push for additional officers to match their staffing model study. There are multiple models to use for staffing and I'm not going to debate the validity of their study for a lot of reasons. I also won't dispute the fact that MPD is experiencing staffing shortages. My job as an Alder is to figure out how to best allocate limited resources.

It's incredibly time-consuming and expensive to train new officers. The hiring process is long and training in the pre-service academy takes 9 months. Officers get salary and benefits while in the academy. The rough estimate cost to the city of a first year police officer is around $56,000. If the council were to authorize a higher head count at MPD this budget season, those new officers wouldn't be on duty until 2021.

MPD is experiencing what every police department in the country is experiencing: a retention problem. In the last 5 years, 54 officers have resigned (not including retirements). Out of those 54, 33 were officers for less than 3 years.

Year Number of Resignations with 0-3 years of service Total Number of Resignations
2015 4 8
2016 7 9
2017 4 6
2018 13 22
2019 5 9
Total 33 54

Why are officers leaving MPD? There is no one answer to this systemic problem. The department does do optional exit interviews, but doesn't quantify the content of the exit interviews or collect data from outgoing employees. I've asked the department to let us know what resources they need to examine and fix this very troubling trend. From my discussions with staff and looking at department workload, as well as national trends, there can be some generalizations to get an idea of some of the factors. This list isn't intended to be all inclusive.

Staff is overworked 

There are lots of reasons for this including increased time spent on service calls, but staffing shortage is a big part of this. This means an unpredictable schedule, reassignments and lots of overtime. This isn't easy for anyone, especially for officers with young families. 

A strong economy in Madison

With a strong economy and job market in Madison, officers have other options. Those options aren't as dangerous, may pay more and likely have more predictable schedules.


The starting salary for a police officer in Madison is $52,700. Other communities (Middleton, Monona, Fitchburg, Sun Prairie, DeForest, Town of Madison, Green Bay and Stoughton) all pay more.

The good news is the top annual salary for an [patrol] officer after multiple years of services is higher than most places at $75,300. 

That doesn't help the rookies.


Younger generations look at jobs differently. It's not as normal for Millennials to have the same job or profession for their entire career. Younger generations look at their work through a different lens and the structure of the job for a new police officer doesn't necessarily match up well with values that younger workers hold. 

Negative Views on Police

Being a police officer isn't easy. You are put in difficult situations. If you make a mistake or do something that was within procedure, but caused harm to someone, you will get a lot of negative attention for that action. As with any job, there can also be bad actors who are not fulfilling the role they should. It's critical part of our democracy that our communities are able to hold law enforcement accountable, and that can be very stressful for the entire department. I believe MPD works hard to be transparent, but the proposed Independent Police Auditor will help provide the community a level of transparency and collaboration that can help improve community relations.


Again, my list isn't intended to detail every reason, but hopefully provides you with some information on what's been shared with me over the last few weeks. There is no easy fix. I believe MPD needs to work on retention, determine the specific reasons Madison is experiencing retention issues, study how the rest of the country is dealing with the issue and come to the Common Council to request the resources they need to solve this problem.

The department will argue the best way to fix this is to add a higher authorized count. I appreciate that point of view, but I feel strongly that limited funds available in the budget should instead be focused on retention. Because of the high investment we make in new officers via training and the amount of time it takes for a new officers to become available for patrol, we are wasting a lot of time and money if we can't get officers to stay on the job.

It's also important to point out the Common Council does authorize MPD to overhire above their 479 officer count based on a three year average of retirements and resignations. The increase in that overhire over the last 5 years is staggering. The cost for each of those overhires is around $56,000 in 2020. Although not permanent, it does represent a considerable yearly increase to MPD funding.

Budget Year Overhire #
2016 17
2017 16
2018 19
2019 28
2020 34

While MPD isn't expected to see an increase in their sworn officer count in 2020 from 2019, we will be paying for 6 additional officers in 2020*. The overhire number is double what it is was in 2016. There is no sign this trend is decreasing. I recognize this overhire doesn't necessarily boost the number of officers deployed for service, but it does take up budget funds that could be used elsewhere including for a higher authorized officer count.

(* = This doesn't include 4 officers that are now being paid by the City of Madison and were previously funded by grants).


Let's talk numbers

The department is authorized to have 479 sworn officers and 119.7 civilian employees (total 598.7).

Rank Authorized
Chief 1
Assistant Chief 3
Captain 11
Lieutenant 23
Sergeant 46
Detective Sergeant 4
Investigator 13
Detective 68
Police Officer 310
Total 479
Authorized strength does not reflect actual strength, which varies throughout the year due to retirements and resignations. For example, as of July 30, MPD's actual strength (excluding officers in the pre-service academy) was 451 (28 positions below authorized strength).
If MPD was at full strength, 211 are assigned to patrol. The rest are assigned to special units. The follow table reflects authorized/designated assignments, not actual current staffing):
Unit/Function 2019 Officer Positions
Patrol 211
Community Policing Teams 30
Neighborhood Police Officers (NPO) 10
Training Officers 7
K9 Officers 7
Neighborhood Resource Officers (NRO) 6
Gang Unit 6
Mental Health Officers (MHO) 6
Community Outreach and Resource Education (CORE) 5
Traffic Enforcement & Safety Team (TEST) 5
Criminal Intelligence Section (CIS) 4
Dane County Narcotics Task Force (DCNTF) 4
School Resource Officers (SRO) 4
Traffic Specialists  2
Mounted Patrol 2
Crime Prevention/Social Media Coordinator 1

As of July 30, there were 189 officers assigned to patrol. Of those, ten (10) were unavailable due to long-term leave (military leave, injury, family leave, etc.). MPD patrol function is operating with 179 available officers (to staff 95 beats daily).

In addition, there are currently 50 officers in the academy. I'm told this is the highest academy class ever! Officers undergoing training in the pre-service academy appear to bolster staffing numbers on paper, but are not available operationally for about nine months after they are hired.

According to the department, their minimum staffing for a 24 hour patrol of the city is 95 officers across the 6 districts (West, Midtown, South, Central, North, East). To staff this model 24/7, accounting for time-off, around 190 officers are required to be in the patrol officer pool.

First Detail (6am-2pm and 7am-3pm)

Minimum Staffing: 25
Second Detail (12pm-8pm) Minimum Staffing: 12
Third Detail (2pm-10pm and 3pm-11pm) Minimum Staffing: 26
Fourth Detail (8pm-4am) Minimum Staffing: 13
Fifth Detail (10pm-6am and 11pm-7am) Minimum Staffing: 19

The 50 officers graduating early in 2020 should help with staffing, but the department has decided to additionally reassign 12 of the non-patrol officers to patrol in order to increase staffing level stability when anticipating continued retirements and resignations. These reassignments will result in 223 police officer positions being assigned to patrol and 87 being assigned to non-patrol positions.

The department will continue to struggle with staffing due to retirements and resignations throughout 2020 and beyond. Those leaving the department not only bring down the number of available officers, but the time it takes to replace them is very long leading to big holes in the amount of available staff.

Even if we could afford it, I don't believe adding 3, 6, or 31 more officers is going to fix a model that is broken due to such a large number of departures. We'll continue a cycle of losing officers, no matter how many we have, and winding up with shortages that will just contribute to more departures. I think it's incredibly important for us to invest time and resources into making sure officers aren't leaving prematurely. 

MPD continues to urge the Common Council to increase their authorized count to fix retention, but with little flexibility in our budget and continued increase in MPD costs (raises, grants expiring, skyrocketing overhire counts), their request is incredibly hard to fulfill. 

Questions? Comments? Corrections? Feel free to reach out:

-Keith F

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