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Team Targets Repeat Violent Offenders

The Madison Police Department (MPD), with needed cooperation from partner agencies and organizations, as well as the community, launches a bold new crime fighting team this week. The Special Investigations Unit (SIU) is a progressive policing project aimed at reducing violent crime on Capitol City streets. This will be achieved by turning lives of offenders around, or putting them behind bars for longer periods of time if they choose to commit more crimes.

Chief Noble Wray has long recognized a relatively small number of criminals are responsible for disproportionate numbers of crimes. "It's clear that under the current system, many are arrested time and time again with no significant change in criminal behavior," said Chief Wray.

Several months ago, he tasked MPD Lt. Tom Woodmansee with finding a better model, and the SIU is the culmination of months of problem solving research, putting together the best of what is working in other areas of the country, and tailoring a program to uniquely fit what might be most productive here in Madison. "A successful focused deterrence program will result in fewer violent crimes and fewer arrests," said Lt. Woodmansee.

The SIU will identify and notify Madison's most violent repeat criminals. Members of this select group will be ordered to a hearing and provided the opportunity to receive assistance in finding a new path in life: help with employment, housing, education, parenting skills, getting a driver's license, drug & alcohol counseling, would be among services offered.

The message to offenders is violence must stop and it is their responsibility. Law enforcement and the community will send the same message:"‘We want to help you change your violent behavior. We will offer you help to change but if you choose to continue your violent acts and victimize our community, we will use all available resources to ensure that you receive swift and stringent consequences," according to Lt. Woodmansee.

He has made some 35 presentations to a host of groups and organizations, detailing the SIU's focused deterrence approach. Everyone from the U.S. Attorney, to Department of Corrections' leaders, to Dane County judges, to Mayor Paul Soglin, to United Way and Madison Urban Ministry staffs have responded favorably. External buy-in appears very strong.

• "The Madison Police Department has my complete support in the launch and operation of the SIU effort to target repeat violent offenders. The statistics showing how a few individuals are responsible for a high number of police calls are astounding and troubling. I am confident this effort will have a positive effect, not only for the safety of the community and the resources of the police department but also in the lives of the targeted individuals. I am hopeful that given the opportunity to make some appropriate choices, with assistance they will work toward becoming productive citizens."

Paul Soglin
City of Madison

• "We are excited about this opportunity to continue to partner with the Madison Police Department on their "Focused Deterrence" work as it aligns well with our Agenda for Change on community safety; there is a reduction in violence towards individuals and families. Our strategic initiative to reduce community violence called "Journey Home" has had success moving our communities return to prison rate down to 21% in 4 years. The smart policing strategies fits with our work helping ex-offenders reintegrate successfully back into the community and will help us move our return to prison rate even lower.

We are pleased to help the Madison Police Department in providing community resources that are integral to the success of this work. We look forward to continuing decreasing crime and increasing community safety throughout Dane County."

Angela Jones
Director, Community Impact
United Way of Dane County

• "The Dane County District Attorney's Office is pleased to work with law enforcement to help ensure safe communities and reduce recidivism. Violent offenders who do not commit to positive change pose a true risk to our community. Through the SIU unity MAPD is focusing on connecting offenders with tools and resources for positive change while holding offenders accountable when necessary. We are pleased to partner with MAPD and other community partners in this focused deterrence model to keep our community safe and reduce recidivism."

Ismael R. Ozanne
Dane County District Attorney

• "Madison-area Urban Ministry looks forward to working with the Madison Police Department on their new "Focused Deterrence" initiative. This new initiative clearly demonstrates that it is possible to increase community safety while offering repeat offenders the tools necessary to become positive, contributing members of the community. We are pleased to partner with the Madison Police Department in this effort."

Linda Ketcham
Executive Director
Madison-area Urban Ministry

• Violence prevention is a three-legged stool requiring strong enforcement,
effective prevention, and viable reentry programs. We need each leg of the stool to fully succeed. The Madison Police Department's new SIUoffering help through community partners to change violent behavior, coupled with swift and aggressive consequences if that help is rejectedis just the sort of forward-thinking strategy needed to achieve full community success. The United States Attorney's office is proud to be a partner with the SIU.

John W. Vaudreuil
United States Attorney

• "The Department of Corrections (DOC) is proud to be a partner in this initiative. DOC remains committed to holding chronic offenders with violent histories accountable for their behavior, while working with our community partners to provide the assistance and tools offenders need to help themselves become law abiding citizens."

Art Thurmer
Wisconsin Department of Corrections

The SIU will be comprised of Lt. Woodmansee, and 3 detectives. The first notification meeting, where a select group of repeat violent criminals will be presented their options, is slated for November.


  • Joel DeSpain, 266-4897