For those who may not have noticed, MPD and the Madison Metropolitan School Board (MMSD) have reached a tentative agreement for a contract which would continue the practice of placing MPD School Resource Officers (SRO's) in each of the four public high schools. The contract, if passed, would run from the fall of 2019 and extend through June of 2022 (with various opt-out options along the way).
I am relieved and grateful that the pleas of parents, students, teachers and staff have been acknowledged and we can continue to demonstrate that the SRO's are a valuable, complementary piece in making our schools safer while fostering positive engagements which place a particular emphasis on being relational in helping all of our students achieve their goals.
That said, indulge me as I tell a brief, fictional story. Let's pretend I have four kids and we set out to see this beautiful nation of ours from sea to shining sea. We are going to make this a once-in-a-life time experience, creating memories that will bond us forever. I take a leave of absence from work, make sure the aging minivan is tuned up and ready to go, and then we set out for nine months of travel with the understanding that there could be some adversity along the way in terms of slick roads, hazardous weather, steep mountain roads, hot desert conditions, mechanical mishaps, and all of the other potential problems that could occur along a trip that is this intense.
But the car is sound, my kids are generally well-behaved, and challenges notwithstanding, I am confident that the final destination will be reached and this shared experience will ultimately bring us closer as a family.
The day of departure arrives and we're off! We are having a great time, get a couple of states into the journey, and then the last rites have to be administered to my beloved minivan. Stuck in the middle of nowhere, I'm forced to get a replacement car but I will not be deterred from accomplishing the goal of this "mandatory fun" trip!!!
But wait, the replacement car only has enough seatbelts for three of the kids! One of my kids will have to sit in a jump seat, but without a seatbelt or harness restraint! We can still accomplish our goal, and the likelihood is that we won't get into a crash and will still arrive at our next destination without incident. But which kid gets the jump seat? I love all my kids, equally, and I don't want to have to make a choice as to which kid should be less protected against potential harm(s)?
Fast forward to the tentative agreement about SRO's. There is a new clause that would give the District the option to reduce the number of SRO's from "4" to "3," thereby functionally creating a "pilot" high school going without an SRO under the proposed contractual language. This is not good for public safety and it creates the same sort of moral and ethical issues similar to my hypothetical story where one of my kids is going to be statistically less "safe" and more at risk during the course of the "journey."
If this "pilot" were to occur, I am concerned for a host of reasons, including:
1. The school designated to go without an SRO may experience unintended consequences. A "patrol" response to calls is manifestly different than an embedded SRO. The patrol officer's response time is predicated on where they are when the call for assistance goes out. The patrol officer generally has several calls in the queue which have to be serviced; thus, the mindset--regrettably--becomes "get in/get out/get on to the next call." Owing to circumstances beyond the control of the patrol cop, the officer will not be afforded the luxury of time that an SRO has to explore a range of possibilities. Chances are the patrol cop will not know or have any specific insights on the unique needs of the student or have any underlying relationship. Bottom line? It would come as no surprise to me if we saw an increase in citations. Not by design, but due to the limitations of a patrol response vs. an SRO response. Right now the preliminary numbers suggest that citations are down almost 70% from last year, reflective of the current SRO model that is working.
2. Each high school has been described as a unique community, which include each of our SROs. How will each "community" be evaluated for this experiment? Deciding which high school will or will not get services seems problematic. Does this school deserve any less protection from various threats to safety (i.e., an active shooter) than the other three?
3. Based upon what I know of the principals at the four high schools, inquiring minds want to know: How will the "pilot" high school be picked? Has a principal been asked or told to "volunteer" to take on the pilot of having no SRO for a full school year?
4. If the District is determined to prove that a world without SRO's is infinitely better and they are desperate to demonstrate that the "pilot" works, will this force pressure on that school's administration to not call the MPD unless there is something dire taking place? I would much prefer to be pro-active and pre-emptive in curtailing problems than be called in after a serious incident.
At the end of the day, I am merely the contractual "signature" on a contract---whether this contract is affirmed is way above my head as the Mayor and the Council have to approve the City's part of any contract with fiscal implications. But I have never been silent when I object to things that could impact public safety and I am against the clause that would provide the District the option of reducing our presence in ALL of the four high schools.
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 06/07/2019 through 6:00 a.m. on 06/08/2019, MPD received 357 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 357 calls for service for the past 24 hours, this is how the calls came in per district: Central (67), East (57), Midtown (64), North (52), South (30), West (56), and Other (31). 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".
**It should be noted that in order to make minimum staffing requirements for shifts, we routinely encounter the necessity of having to pay overtime in order to ensure safe staffing levels at the beginning of each shift. For example, on Friday (6/7), the officer-in-charge had to make the following adjustments: two 5th detail officers were held over to cover beats while 1st detail officers were tied up on calls, one 3rd detail officer came in early to help cover a 2nd detail beat and one 1st detail officer was held over to cover a 2nd detail beat.
**Priority calls only from 4:30 pm to 4:50 pm due to calls for service, and from 6:15 pm to 8:30 pm due to a power outage.
1) SOUTH: Traffic Complaint/Investigation – 2:39 a.m. A MPD officer observed a vehicle driving at excessive speeds and nearly hitting traffic cones on Hwy 12/18 eastbound. The officer initiated a traffic stop and the driver/suspect (31-year-old AAM) stopped but then took off. The vehicle was later located unoccupied. The suspect was identified but not located. Once apprehended, the suspect will be charged with eluding. Investigation continuing. *This was a late call that did not make the previous 24-hour cycle call notes due to officers being involved at the scene and reports from the field were not yet typed.
2) CENTRAL: Check Person – 3:42 a.m. Officers received a request to check the welfare of a subject (19-year-old WF) who was reportedly intoxicated and screaming. The subject's friends/roommates reported that the subject contacted them in a panicked state and mentioned possibly being sexually assaulted. The subject was located, contacted and conveyed to a local hospital for an evaluation. The subject decided against a medical evaluation and instead wanted to leave the hospital. The subject was given a ride home. It is unknown at this time if any crime(s) took place. Investigation continuing. *This was a late call that did not make the previous 24-hour cycle call notes due to officers being involved at the scene and reports from the field were not yet typed.
3) MIDTOWN: Trespass – 7:00 a.m. Officers were notified that a suspect (48-year-old AAM) entered a Kwik Trip in the 1400 block of Monroe Street from which he had been banned. The suspect was not on scene when officers arrived but was later located and arrested for criminal trespassing. Investigation continuing.
4) WEST: Drug Incident/Investigation – 11:16 a.m. A MPD officer observed a vehicle stopped in the middle of the intersection (Hempstead Rd/Brookwood Rd) which was occupied by two subjects/suspects (25-year-old WM and 26-year-old WF) who were passed out. The suspects were revived. The male suspect was arrested and charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated (1st offense). The female suspect was cited for possession of a controlled substance and possession of drug paraphernalia. The female suspect was referred to the Madison Addiction Recovery Initiative (MARI) program. Investigation continuing.
5) MIDTOWN: Check Person – 4:04 pm. Officers responded to N Gammon Rd for a suicidal subject (77-year-old WM). The subject was placed into protective custody and conveyed to a local hospital.
6) MIDTOWN: Information – 5:45 pm. Officers assisted with traffic direction as numerous traffic lights were not working in the area of N Randall Ave and Campus Dr due to an underground explosion in the Regent St/Monroe St area.
7) CENTRAL: Sexual Assault – 5:46 pm. A victim (20-year-old FW) reported a known suspect (70-year-old WM) made inappropriate sexual contact with her in the 2700 block of Atwood Ave earlier in the day. Investigation continuing.
8) CENTRAL: Found Person – 6:13 pm. Officers located a runaway juvenile (16-year-old WF) in the 100 block of State St. A detective responded to conduct an interview regarding past sexual assault investigations. Investigation continuing.
9) WEST: Runaway Juvenile – 9:55 pm. A mother reported her daughter (14-year-old UF) had not returned home to their residence in the 1200 block of McKenna Blvd at the expected time. An ATL was aired and the juvenile was listed as missing. Investigation continuing.
10) MIDTOWN: Substantial Battery – 9:55 pm. Officers were dispatched to the CP Mart at 4601 Verona Rd for a victim (25-year-old HM) who reported a suspect (UM) with whom he was slightly familiar had beaten him. The victim was transported to the hospital to be treated for his injuries which required sutures. Investigation continuing.
11) NORTH: Domestic Disturbance – 1:15 am. Officers responded to a residence where the suspect (26-year-old WM) was yelling, slamming doors, and pushing and threatening family members, including his sister/victim (34-year-old WF). The suspect was arrested for domestic disorderly conduct. Investigation continuing.
12) EAST: Suspicious Person/Theft from Auto – 1:25 am. Officers responded to the 200 block of N Thompson Dr for a report of a suspicious person checking car doors. Officers closed in on the suspect (18-year-old AAM) and after a brief foot pursuit apprehended the suspect near Hiestand Park. The suspect was in possession of several credit cards in names that were not his, as well as a key fob. The suspect was cited for resisting arrest. Investigation continuing.
13) CENTRAL: Robbery – 2:48 am. The victim (23-year-old UM), a delivery driver for Ian's Pizza, was parked in front of the AC Hotel at 1 N Webster St when two suspects entered his vehicle. One of the suspects was wearing a ski mask. The victim fled from the vehicle. The suspects took the money bag from the vehicle and while running to their vehicle, dropped the keys, which the victim then grabbed and ran towards the hotel. The suspects chased after the victim and a struggle ensued over the keys and money bag. The victim did recover the money and the suspects recovered their keys and fled in their vehicle. Investigation continuing.