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MPD Adheres To Policy, Philosophy, & Public Safety

The following is a statement from Chief Noble Wray:

In recent months, the Madison Police Department (MPD) has been the recipient of positive feedback, both locally and nationally, for the ways in which the men and women of this department have helped democracy safely flourish during downtown marches and demonstrations. Officers have been proud to protect and serve during massive peaceful gatherings where no arrests were needed.

This week, during a protest involving several hundred, some people were cited. These arrests caused a few people to question whether the MPD has changed its stance or philosophy, in regards to protests.

We have not.

The mission of the MPD has been - and will continue to be - the protection of the First Amendment. We want the Capitol Square, and other areas of the downtown, to be places where people can feel free to voice opinions on heated and contentious issues. Officers look to treat everyone the same: regardless of political party, place of employment, or position on the state budget.

The following is taken from MPD Policy 9-100, which deals with Demonstrations and Assemblies:

The Madison Police Department's function is to protect citizens' Constitutional rights to free speech, to demonstrate, and disseminate information in a lawful and peaceful manner while protecting others' rights to free movement, privacy, and freedom from violence. The Department has an obligation to protect citizens' rights while maintaining order, protecting property and ensuring safety. The Madison Police Department and its personnel will be completely impartial and employees will make no public statement which reflects personal opinion on the pertinent issue(s) while on duty.

Our department works to develop positive relationships with all groups looking to assemble. At events, officers enjoy having good-natured, friendly interactions with citizens. They are trained to use restraint in the use of force, and to treat all people with dignity, respect, and fairness.

The goal, while managing large events, is to maintain order, and officers will use only the amount of force necessary to accomplish this goal.

What changed this week, the reason for citations, was behavior. In one case, officers gave demonstrators the option of leaving a downtown bank, or receiving citations. In a second case, a couple of people refused to get up and out of the street. Again, they were given the option of complying or being cited.

It is my hope that those coming downtown to demonstrate will do so peacefully, that they will work with our officers and that no more arrests or citations will be needed.

I am proud of the professional and competent way the men and women of the MPD have responded to the many rallies and events. They have held closely the philosophy of the MPD, the policy of the MPD, and their unwavering commitment to public safety.


  • Joel DeSpain, 266-4897