With nicer weather and longer daylight hours, we see juveniles hanging out and enjoying the opportunity to get outside. While the overwhelming majority of our youth are making good choices and living up to our expectations, we do see upticks in issues related to weapons offenses, fight calls, and disturbances as spring yields to summer. Regardless of who calls or whether the context is readily understood, a call for service to the Dane County Communications Center generates a police response.
Let's focus on some recent incidents where citizens have reported "guns displayed" by juveniles. Oftentimes these guns turn out to be "bb"/pellet/paintball guns. The remarkable likeness to real firearms is frightening and one can understand why these facsimile guns should not be minimized as to their authenticity and capabilities. Once we arrive at a scene and stabilize the dynamics of what is taking place, oftentimes the investigation reveals that the gun in question is a facsimile and the juveniles were "just playing." One can readily understand the level of fear, apprehension, and stress for all parties involved given the volatility of a situation where an apparent gun is self-evident.
A responding officer cannot discount or assume that a gun is "merely" a facsimile. Over the years, "shots fired" has become a separate/stand-alone category incident that MPD has attempted to quantify given its frequency. These are always dangerous and challenging calls for cops and constituents alike; each call is handled situationally and the responding officers go to great lengths to gather as much information as possible before taking decisive actions.
This is a good reminder that parents and guardians should have a frank discussion with their children about the potential dangers of these various facsimile firearms. The conversation should also embrace what to do if contacted by the police in the event that they are associated with a call of this nature. Specifically, the juvenile - - - particularly one that is holding such a facsimile - - - should drop the gun and never point or threaten with a gun in hand. Follow the verbal instructions as they are provided. Flight or furtive motions can only lead to further ambiguity as to whether a gun is involved. If the youth believes that they were not treated appropriately or that the officer violated anyone's rights, there is a mechanism for filing a complaint after the incident has been resolved. In the meantime, it is best to stay calm and be a good witness to what transpires.
Madison City Ordinance 25.01(5) states "No person under the age of 18 shall be armed with or be sold a pellet gun." Madison City Ordinance 25.30(2) states "No person may carry or display a facsimile firearm in a manner that could reasonably be expected to alarm, intimidate, threaten or terrify another person." Madison City Ordinance 25.06 prohibits any discharge of firearms within the City limits.
With respect to calls of fights in progress or a disturbance, the police have no way of knowing whether this is much ado about nothing or youths engaging in "play-fighting." We respond, separate and interview all of those involved parties to ensure that there is no intentional harm taking place and that this was merely a misunderstanding where the context was not readily apparent to the caller. We do not want people refraining from calling in because they are unsure about the underlying behavior; better to err on the side of caution rather than allow a situation to potentially escalate. If this is just "playing around," then nothing more than a contact from the police will result with no adverse findings.
The information contained in my blog is derived from notes provided by MPD Officers-In-Charge (OIC) at the end of their shifts. Most narratives represent early and preliminary information that was gathered by an OIC from those in the field who were actively working cases. The OIC is sharing what they were being told, in the moment. In many instances, facts and circumstances, even the type of crime listed, can change as officers, detectives and investigators continue their work.
From 6:00 a.m. on 5/05/2019 through 6:00 a. m. on 5/06/2019, MPD received 373 calls for service. This number does not include parking complaints or 911 misdials. For purposes of clarification, the following abbreviations are short-hand for race designations: W=White, AA=African American, NA=Native American, H=Hispanic, ME=Middle Eastern, A=Asian, MR=Mixed Race, U=Unknown. MPD shifts are staggered as follows: 1st detail=7 a.m. to 3 p.m., 2nd detail=12 p.m. to 8 p.m., 3rd detail=3 p.m. to 11 p.m., 4th detail=8 p.m. to 4 a.m., 5th detail=11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
To further break down the 373 calls for service for the past 24-hours, this is how the calls came in per district: Central (63), East (70), Midtown (52), North (73), South (38), West (40), and Other (37). Other=these are calls for service that either do not have a sector listed or the sector is not in the City. For example, if one of our officers assists another law enforcement agency, their sector is not listed in our districts so therefore it is listed under "other".
***Priority calls from 3:57 pm to 8:20 pm on May 5 due to calls for service.
1) WEST: Traffic Crash – 11:13 a.m. The suspect (34-year-old WM) was traveling on Harbour Town Dr at Junction Rd with his two children when he lost control and rolled the vehicle. The suspect fled on foot (he was OAR/Operating After Revocation) with the two children. Officers located the all of the parties nearby. The children were transported to a local hospital as a precautionary measure. The suspect/driver was subsequently arrested for 4th offense OWI and transported to the Dane County Jail. Investigation continuing.
2) CENTRAL: Information/Sexual Assault – 11:58 a.m. An officers responded to a local hospital to take a statement from a victim (20-year-old WF) who believed she may have been assaulted in the area of E Washington Ave and Ingersoll St. A FNE exam was conducted at a local hospital. Investigation continuing.
3) WEST: Mental Health Conveyance – 11:54 a.m. Officers responded to a residence on Watts road after a woman found her ex-boyfriend (25-year-old WM) attempting self-harm. The subject was taken into protective custody and conveyed to a local hospital for evaluation. Investigation continuing.
4) NORTH: Adult Arrested Person– 1:28 p.m. A wanted subject (24-year-old AAM) was observed in a vehicle near Warner Park. Officers contacted the suspect arrested him for an outstanding warrant. During the arrest, marijuana and cocaine were located on the suspect's person and in his vehicle. The suspect was conveyed to jail on numerous charges. Investigation continuing.
5) WEST: Disturbance – 3:15 p.m. Officers responded to a residence in the 1200 block of McKenna Blvd after a resident/victim (34-year-old WF) called to report there were four AAMs on her porch asking to recover a phone that was missing/left in a car last night. Officers made an attempt to locate this phone in the vehicle as well as in the apartment but it was not located. The suspects refused to leave and became uncooperative with officers. Three of the four suspects (18-year-old AAM, 19-year-old AAM, and 21-year-old AAM) were arrested on numerous charges including Trespassing, Possession with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Bail Jumping, Resisting, and Threats to Law Enforcement. Investigation continuing.
6) CENTRAL: Domestic Disturbance – 8:38 p.m. The victim (34-year-old WM) and suspect (31-year-old WM) are roommates and got into a physical altercation on 5/4/2019. Officers developed probable cause for charges of Disorderly Conduct, Intimidation of a Victim and Battery. The victim contacted police as he was afraid to return to the apartment, in fear the suspect was inside. The suspect was indeed located inside and was taken into custody. Investigation continuing.
7) CENTRAL: Information/Sexual Assault – 11:53 p.m. Officers took a report from an 18-year-old WF who advised of an assault that occurred on N Frances St. The victim knows the suspect (21-year-old AAM) as an acquaintance. Investigation continuing.
8) NORTH: Stolen Auto – 1:33 a.m. Officers were dispatched to the 4100 block of E Washington Ave after witnesses reported that occupants of a vehicle fled the scene after crashing into a traffic pole. The registered owner (49-year-old AAM) arrived on scene and informed officers that his girlfriend's son (21-year-old AAM) took the vehicle without consent. Officers developed probable cause for charges of Operating a Motor Vehicle without Owner's Consent. Investigation continuing.
9) CENTRAL: Adult Arrested Person – 1:42 a.m. A wanted suspect (30-year-old AAM) turned himself in on outstanding domestic-related charges of Substantial Battery, Intimidation of a Victim, Strong Armed Robbery, and Disorderly Conduct. Investigation continuing.
10) CENTRAL: Battery – 2:08 a.m. Officers received several reports of a domestic battery occurring in a parking lot on W Gilman St. The suspect (24-year-old AAM) and victim (21-year-old AAF) were both uncooperative but witness statements gathered by officers at the scene revealed that the suspect punched the victim at least four times, causing significant injuries (broken jaw/teeth knocked out). The suspect was booked into jail on Felony Bail Jumping and domestic-related charges of Substantial Battery, Disorderly Conduct, and Strangulation. The victim was placed in protective custody and transported to a local hospital for treatment of her injuries. Investigation continuing.