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Chief Koval's Blog

A MPD Intern's Perspective

August 24, 2016 2:16 PM

Each year, the Madison Police Department offers an internship program; the vast majority of students flock to our summer openings.  Typically, we have 40-60 students competing for an average of 20 unpaid internship positions.  The work placements for the internships vary but students have been assigned to the following areas of our Department:  Districts, Community Policing Teams, Forensic Services, Neighborhood Officers, Mounted Patrol, K9 Unit, Traffic Enforcement and Safety Team (TEST), Drug Task Force, Crime Prevention, Training, Gang Unit, Special Investigations Unit, as well as other sections.  Interns are also afforded the opportunity to spend time in specialty units outside of their initial placement.  This includes participating in ride-alongs or job shadowing. 

Our internships have proven invaluable for those who have a desire to learn more about policing and for some it is an opportunity for career exploration.  We have hired many former interns who are now Guardians who protect and serve the citizens of Madison as sworn officers. 

This summer one of our interns was Tom, who is attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  He was assigned to our Central District and enjoyed many teachable moments on his sojourn through the Department.  Tom is double-majoring in Legal Studies and Political Science while also pursuing a certificate in Criminal Justice.  He will be graduating next year.  Tom wrote several blogs during his time with us this summer and we thought we would share his final blog below. 

- Chief Koval


Staying True to Their Core Values

Before starting this internship, I had my doubts about the "effectiveness" of the Madison Police Department (MPD).  During my scholarly endeavors I encountered many statistics about the criminal justice system that tarnished my opinion of 21st century policing in America as a whole. It certainly did not help that Dane County had some of the worst racially disproportionate arrest rates in the country.  After reading the Madison Police Department's Core Values over and over, I thought to myself, how could a department with these exemplary core values be a part of such disproportionate statistics?

It took some time for me to learn how to apply the MPD's core values with different officers and units. After internalizing the core values: human dignity, service, community partnership, diversity, integrity, leadership, continuous improvement and proficiency, I realized that most every employee, regardless of rank, were working on staying true to these values. On all of my ride-alongs, MPD officers displayed extraordinary levels of human dignity and service towards citizens. Officers were concerned with the well-being of citizens regardless of previous negative contacts or criminal history. Lt. Austin and Officer Brown began and ended every contact with a handshake. Every conversation I observed ended on a positive note; whether that be Officer McLay's lecture on how to avoid a ticket or Officer Kalka's offer to drive a jobless offender to an interview. The mutual respect between officers and citizens they had previously arrested illuminates gracious, professional relationship building.

The Madison Police Department is at the forefront of community partnership and diversity. The Community Policing Team (CPT), Neighborhood Resource Officer (NRO), and Community Outreach Resource Education Unit (CORE) strive to proactively better serve the community.  Even officers who were not part of community outreach units aspire to build trust and alleviate disproportionate aspects of policing. Lt. Krueger Favour of the Central District helps run CampHERO, a girl scout camp designed to expose more women to the first responder profession.  (No wonder the MPD employs three times more women than a typical policing agency). Regardless of rank, MPD personnel take the time to reach out and connect with communities in Madison. Officer Prado connects with the Latino community by taking time out of his days off to volunteer for mentoring positives, or prolong his involvement with Amigos en Azul. The CPT and CORE Units aspire to establish trust and camaraderie with their assigned communities. The CORE team proactively builds trust by engaging 6-8th graders through Madison School and Community Recreation (MSCR) programs. The CPT connects with citizens, offenders, and business owners in the community, while the NRO assists with hot spots in order to make the community safer.   MPD's Mental Health Officer is readily available to intervene during a mental health crisis. After working along-side such units I must reiterate how effective the MPD is at proactively solving problems.

Madison is extremely lucky to have the presence of a policing agency that takes pride on being progressive, while staying true with the quintessential historical roots of ideal policing. Sir Robert Peel, who founded the Metropolitan Police in 1829, noted that public-police relations are the most important principle of law enforcement.  After vigorously studying Legal Studies, Political Science and Criminal Justice, I could not agree more with the MPD's style of policing. The MPD exceeds the realms of Peel's principle by employing leaders that aspire to better the community while simultaneously acting as its guardian.  In my eyes this two pronged approach influences officers to "police like champions" by utilizing their discretion with the highest levels of cultural competency.  MPD officers are champions in every sense of the word: they want and are encouraged to continuously improve their cultural competencies. Just like a champion, the MPD carefully analyzes every mistake and seeks to learn from it.  

After reflecting on my internship I can only think one thing:  three months into my internship I had come to realize my initial attributions and concerns about MPD were unfounded. 

Intern Tom - Summer 2016

Posted by: Chief Koval

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