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After nearly four years of study, evaluation, and deliberation, Madison’s Ad Hoc Committee charged with undertaking a comprehensive review of the Madison Police Department (MPD) has completed its work and issued its final report. The report contains 177 specific recommendations which the committee has advised are designed to chart a path for the future that will help bring together Madison’s diverse communities and its police department, build mechanisms for collaboration and trust through enhanced civilian input and oversight of the policing function, and ensure that the Madison Police Department continues its long-standing ideals of community policing and problem-oriented policing.

The centerpiece of the report and its recommendations is that Madison should create structures for civilian oversight of police through a new Office of an Independent Monitor that responds to a Civilian Review Board, composed of civilians who reflect all of Madison’s diverse communities and the lived experiences of those members of the community who frequently come into contact with the police. That recommendation was submitted to the Common Council separately on August 6, 2019, and was accepted by the Council. The Mayor’s budget includes $200,000 to implement that recommendation.

Other recommendations include proposals aimed at improving the MPD’s relations with the Madison Community, including addressing race and equity concerns; enhancing the MPD’s commitment to and practice of community policing and problem-oriented policing; enhancing the MPD’s ability to respond effectively and sensitively to individuals in mental health crises; minimizing the need to resort to and the frequency of incidents of police use of force, including deadly force; improving accountability and transparency; creating processes for learning from bad outcomes, including police or civilian fatalities; and others.

The report notes: “To its great credit, MPD has readily embraced a significant number of these recommendations and has already begun implementing many of them—even some that it was initially reluctant to accept. Indeed, some of these recommendations acknowledge the excellent work the MPD is doing in some areas by simply encouraging the MPD to keep doing what it is already doing in those areas. But it is also important to note that many of these recommendations call for significant changes, and push MPD outside of its comfort zone.”

The Committee’s 12 members (initially 15), all served on a volunteer basis, meeting monthly, then semi-monthly, and sometimes weekly, to complete the Report. The Committee Co-Chair Keith Findley said, “this really is a work of love—love for the City of Madison and for all of its communities and residents, including those who sometimes clash with the police or feel marginalized, and for the committed police officers who work every day to keep our communities safe.”

Council President Shiva Bidar also stated “I would like to thank the committee members for their dedication as well as the breadth and depth of their work. The Common Council will carefully review, deliberate and determine the next steps for all the recommendations in a collaborative effort to strengthen the public trust.”