Takeaways from the 2023 State of Public Safety Address

Violent crimes are trending in an encouraging direction, according to data released by Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes during the 2023 State of Public Safety Address.

In order to achieve this goal, the department has remained focused on the three core priorities of 21st Century Policing: crime prevention, community engagement and employee safety and wellness.

Here is a breakdown of each category and how it has impacted the Madison community, as highlighted during the Chief’s speech.

Crime Prevention
The Madison Police Department has been laser-focused on crime prevention the past two years and is starting to see a decrease in violent crimes happening in our community.

Last year, six people were murdered in Madison, compared to 10 in 2021.

The number of victims impacted by gunfire has been steadily declining the last two years. Madison experienced a 14-percent drop from the previous year in aggravated assaults involving a firearm in 2022. Shots fired calls were also down 39 percent during this same time frame.

“At a time when violent crime is on the mind of many Americans, I am proud to say we are trending in the right direction,” Barnes said.

The department is focused on community policing and taking a proactive approach to patrols. Last year, more than 360 illegal guns were safely recovered. This is 100 more guns recovered than in 2021.

“We are seeing and experiencing positive change,” Barnes said. “But fear of crime is far more important than any actual number or statistic. We want people to feel safe.”
Robberies, home break-ins and forcible rape cases were also down.

Department leadership is currently tracking and working on a plan to fix a spike in non-residential burglaries. The city experienced a 43-percent increase in non-residential burglaries in 2022, compared to 2021.

Stolen Cars
Many community members reached out to department leadership in the past year concerned about the issue of stolen cars. The department made this concern a top priority for the 2022 Summer Strategic Plan.

During the plan, stolen auto cases were assigned to our Burglary Crime Unit, a successful change that continued through the year.

Officers were also proactive when there was a nationwide spike in stolen Kia and Hyundai models. In Madison alone this summer, there was a 270-percent increase in the theft of these particular vehicle brands.

Being proactive, officers and command staff hosted a wheel-lock giveaway and visited apartment complexes in the city, warning people of this problem.

Overall for 2022, we ended the year with a 12-percent decrease in stolen cars. Car break-ins also dropped 33 percent compared to the prior year.

“We should be grateful for officers who continue to selflessly commit themselves to public safety in Madison,” Barnes said. “They do not do it for the money or prestige. They do it because of an unwavering dedication to selfless public service.”

The department responded to more than 134,000 calls for service last year.

Community Engagement
The Chief commented on the need and appreciation of community support when it comes to crime reduction during his speech.

In 2022, the Madison Area Crime Stoppers tip line received more than 700 calls from community members, providing information on unsolved cases. Those calls yielded 11 arrests and the recovery of personal property.

“I commend our community for stepping up and speaking up,” Barnes said. “We cannot do this alone. We all have to take ownership when it involves keeping Madison safe.”

Community Outreach
In the past year, the Madison Police Department has hired, created and expanded some key positions and programs.

The department hired its first Director of Police Reform, Data and Innovation and a Community Engagement Specialist.

The Madison Common Council voted to approve a body-worn camera pilot program for the North District, which is being worked on now.

The Biden Administration’s Office of Community Oriented Policing partially funded six officers to support our community policing and outreach efforts. Some of the department’s outreach efforts include youth mentorship programs, summer camps, food drives, basketball leagues, Coffee with a Cop meetups and game nights at area apartment complexes.

The department also seeks to divert individuals with substance use disorders out of the criminal justice system and into recovery through the Madison Area Addiction Recovery Initiative (MAARI) program. There are currently 16 people actively involved in MAARI.

Employee Safety and Wellness
Department leadership understands that, in order to care for others, you must also care for yourself.

Officers have the ability to schedule two wellness days – time off where they are encouraged to reset and refocus.

A virtual response unit is in the works, which will offer an optional virtual police response for crimes and incidents. This will not only offer more flexibility and convenience for callers, but also provide a limited duty option for officers in lieu of expending personal leave for illness or other needs.

A five-year strategic plan is in the works with employee and public input.

“We are proud of the accomplishments that were made in 2022, and we are eager to confront the challenges ahead of us as we embark on a new year,” Barnes said.

You can watch the State of Public Safety Address in its entirety at this link.