I'd like to devote my first blog as Acting Chief to recognizing Chief Koval as he moves into his well-deserved retirement. It's often said that a leader should be evaluated on whether he or she leaves their organization in a better state than they found it. And by that measure, Chief Koval's tenure should be viewed as an unqualified success. A few examples to illustrate:
- MPD's authorized strength (commissioned personnel) has increased by thirty (30) positions during Chief Koval's tenure. Seven of the new positions were supported by grant funding, reducing the impact on the City budget. These staffing increases have allowed MPD to better serve the community, and have been utilized for some innovative efforts:
- MPD created Neighborhood Resource Officer (NRO) positions in 2015. These officers – one per district – focus on problem-solving efforts and community outreach.
- MPD implemented the Mental Health Unit in 2015. The Mental Health Unit focus on community members who suffer from mental illness and whose behavior results in repeated encounters with police. Each MPD district has a Mental Health Officer (MHO) assigned, and three civilian mental health crisis workers are embedded with the unit. MPD's Mental Health Unit is nationally recognized and is a model that other agencies have used to form similar units.
- MPD created a Community Outreach and Resource Education (CORE) unit in 2016. This unit has focused on outreach and engagement with a focus on developing trust with youth in the community.
- MPD created a Use of Force Coordinator position in 2016. This position reviews every use of force incident involving an MPD officer, compiles/releases use of force data, and looks for opportunities to improve MPD's use of force practices (policy, training, etc.).
- MPD created a detective position to focus on human trafficking in the 2019 budget.
- Chief Koval secured funding to open a new MPD District Station – Midtown. City growth had created a compelling need for the department to add a new district, and the concept of Midtown had been around for years. However, Chief Koval was able to secure political and community support to finally make the project a reality. The result is a district station that was designed and built to accommodate future growth and that is improving the level of service MPD is able to provide the community.
- Chief Koval has hired about 45% of the current workforce. MPD currently is authorized to have about 600 full-time employees (479 commissioned and 119 civilian), and 262 of them were hired under Chief Koval's tenure. Chief Koval has sought to hire professional individuals dedicated to serving the community, and his hires will leave their mark on MPD and the community for years to come. Prior to becoming Chief, then-Sergeant Koval was heavily involved in recruitment and the hiring process, and his impact on MPD's workforce has been significant.
- Chief Koval has made 115 promotions during his tenure. This reflects a significant number of MPD's current promoted ranks, including supervisory and command positions. Chief Koval identified and selected these leaders, ensuring that they are committed to MPD's mission and core values. Their leadership will ensure continuity and commitment to community policing for years to come.
- Years before he was Chief, then-Sergeant Koval began teaching the constitutional law portion of MPD's academy. This is a critical component of a new officer's training, reinforcing the constitutional and statutory limits on police decision-making. Only around a dozen of us remain who did not have Chief Koval teach us law in the academy. Knowledge of the law impacts most aspects of an officer's job; Chief Koval's thoughtful approach to teaching law – with an emphasis on respecting the rights of community members – has had a major influence on the department.
- Chief Koval has continued MPD's commitment to having a diverse workforce, and has solidified MPD's reputation as a national leader in hiring and promoting women and people of color.
- During Chief Koval's tenure, MPD has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in external funding (grant and non-profit), reducing MPD's impact on the City budget and allowing the department to provide a higher level of service to the community.
- Under Chief Koval's leadership, MPD has been a leader in local efforts to reduce reliance on the criminal justice system and seek better outcomes in a variety of circumstances. Examples include the Madison Addiction Recovery Initiative (diverting certain low-level offenders into drug treatment without an arrest), Mental Health Unit (described above), and the Community Restorative Court (utilizing restorative justice as an alternative to traditional arrest/prosecution outcomes).
- MPD underwent an outside evaluation during Chief Koval's tenure, resulting in a lengthy document outlining a number of recommendations for improvement (The OIR Report). MPD has proactively responded to the report and been actively working to implement changes and recommendations as appropriate.
- Chief Koval has navigated an extraordinarily challenging period in American policing. While Madison has not been immune to issues seen nationally, MPD is working to maintain positive relations with the community while continuing to explore areas for the department to improve.
- Chief Koval has demonstrated an unparalleled level of caring and commitment to the MPD workforce. He frequently addresses the department as his "MPD family," and his actions as Chief consistently showed his concern for MPD employees, sworn and civilian.
Over the course of his 35 year career with MPD, Chief Koval has had a significant impact on the department and the community. I am personally grateful for the leadership he has provided, and it is clear to me that he moved MPD forward during his time as Chief.
-Acting Chief Victor Wahl