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The passage of a Police Monitor and the Civilian Oversight Board is a milestone for our City and our state. I hope this long-awaited effort will result in the transparency the community demands, as well as contribute to greater community confidence and trust in our police department.

I know some people have concerns or questions about how the Monitor and Oversight Board will work. According to the National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement, there are now 166 oversight bodies across the nation including in some of America’s largest cities. While this oversight mechanism is new to us in Madison, I hope it will help us communicate what we are doing well and identify where we can do better.

Under Wisconsin law, the Police and Fire Commission (PFC) is the body responsible for the discipline and termination of police officers. The Monitor and Oversight Board will have a broader mandate to review police department policies and practices and conduct investigations when necessary. They will also make recommendations to the Police Chief and the PFC, and play a key role in communicating with the public and receiving public comment and input.

Experts note that the most effective oversight bodies are the ones that establish themselves as independent, effective, and fair. Community groups now have an opportunity to put forward a strong set of candidates to serve as a foundation for a new era of transparency, cooperation and continuous improvement.​