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Chief Koval's Blog

Diversity Dialogue

December 2, 2016 1:05 PM

In October, The Justice Department and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) released a comprehensive report examining the barriers and promising practices in recruitment, hiring and retention of officers in the advancing of law enforcement diversity.  The DOJ and EEOC engaged with dozens of law enforcement leaders, officials and officers; researchers; civil rights advocates and other experts to produce their report.  The Center for Policing Equity assisted with research and analysis expertise.  The report, which builds upon the recommendations of the President's Task Force on 21st Century Policing, notes that "while greater workforce diversity alone cannot ensure fair and effective policing, a significant – and growing – body of evidence suggests that diversity can make policing more effective, more safe and more just". 

Representatives from the Madison Police Department were solicited for information and current practices in the areas of recruitment, hiring, and retention. Ultimately, authors of the report included three specific on-going MPD initiatives as listed below: 

The Madison (Wisconsin) Police Department has made significant progress in increasing the number of women it hires to be officers.  The agency's physical agility test used to require a bench press component, which deterred some candidates from applying and led others to fail – in part because they were not familiar with the specific weight lifting equipment or exercise.  Recognizing these challenges, the agency began to give candidates the option to do push-ups, instead of the bench press, to test their upper body strength.  Department leadership believe this change resulted in more women competing and passing the physical agility test.  Overtime, the bench press was completely removed from the exam. 

The Madison (Wisconsin) Police Department, pairs each new officer with a one-on-one mentor.  The mentorship program is intended to provide these officers with someone intentionally selected to meet their needs.  Through the mentorship program, the department also holds family-friendly events to create an inclusive environment.

The Madison (Wisconsin) Police Department empowers and expects its officers to engage in recruitment efforts.  To that end, it has established recruiting cadres for specific areas of interests, geographies, or backgrounds, including a focus on candidates of color, veterans, and women.  Each recruiting cadre is tasked with continually updating its strategies in order to ensure that the recruitment message is focusing on specific demographics.  The cadres also include civilian employees, and they are encouraged to assist in recruiting efforts.  The department has found that these employees are especially helpful in dispelling myths and fighting stereotypes about the department.

In addition to this recognition of efforts, MPD was asked to co-host a "Diversity Dialogue" along with representatives from the  Justice Department and EEOC.  John Vaudreuil, the US Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin, facilitated the discussion among attendees.  The meeting, held on November 30th at the Madison Police Training Center, was intended to further drive dialogue about the barriers and promising practices identified in the report. It was also intended to help law enforcement leaders implement some of these same practices being used by their colleagues. Participants from Wisconsin Training and Standards, multiple Southern Wisconsin police agencies, Police and Fire Commissioners from Madison and Milwaukee, as well as local citizen and community stakeholders were in attendance. Similar meetings were also held in Savannah, Georgia and San Francisco, California.

The MPD has long understood, and has once again been recognized for working to create a workforce that reflects the diversity of our community. This can only be done by seeking input from internal and external stakeholders while maintaining a willingness to experiment with and/or adopt  the type of successful diversity building efforts implemented by the many agencies illustrated within this report.

The entire report may be found at the following link:


This blog was authored by Captain Thomas Snyder.








Posted by: Chief Koval

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