Last week there was some media coverage about MPD billing a group of youth activists for a march that took place in September. This is not a new issue, and I thought it would be appropriate to provide an overview of the issue and the City's process for these (and similar) events.
City ordinance requires a permit anytime that an event or activity will close, reserve or use any portion of a Madison street, sidewalk, parking lane or space. Groups or individuals interested in an event that qualifies are required to apply for and obtain a City of Madison Street Use Permit. The City has a "Street Use Staff Commission" to review applications for street use permits; the commission is made up of staff members from a number of City agencies. While the focus on the September event was MPD and police costs, street use permits can impact the community in a number of ways that require the involvement of many City agencies (including MFD, Madison Metro, Traffic Engineering, Parks, Risk Management, Streets, etc.). The MPD representative to the Street Use Staff Commission is just one of about a dozen City staff members who consider these applications.
The Street Use Staff Commission works with organizers to make an event as safe as possible for all involved. The permit process includes an estimate of City costs, which the applicant agrees to pay for. While police are often the largest cost for a street use event, other agency costs are often included in the permit and reimbursement process (barricades, MFD costs for inspections/staffing, etc.). Hundreds of street use permits are considered and issued every year. The events/activities these permits apply to covers a wide spectrum, including large-scale events (like Ironman, Shake the Lake, etc.), farmers markets, block parties, commercial events, or individual marches/protests. These events collectively cost the City hundreds of thousands of dollars annually for planning, equipment and staff time.
On occasion, event organizers/planners have resisted the notion of being charged for any City services to engage in activity which they view as First Amendment expression. When these concerns have been forwarded to MPD in the past, the organizer has been referred to the Mayor's Office. And, in some instances, the costs have been fully or partially waived. While the wide variety of events/activities that require a street use permit can make it difficult to evaluate whether an event is a First Amendment activity, a commercial/recreational activity, or a combination, I feel strongly that as Chief I cannot be the one to decide who is exempted from paying for police costs associated with an event. Nor should leaders from other City agencies be expected to make that decision for their expenses. It is more appropriate for that determination to rest with the Mayor, rather than individual City agency heads.
Mayor Rhodes-Conway has advised that the MPD costs for the September event be waived, and we will work with City Finance to rescind the bill. The Mayor has also expressed interest in modifying the street use permit process, to allow applicants to seek a cost waiver as part of the process. I support this concept...we want to encourage event planners/organizers to work within the system to allow for their activities to be as safe as possible. Incorporating a waiver request – to be decided by the Mayor's Office – into the permit application process will further this goal.
The information provided below about some of the calls officers responded to 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 11/18/2019 through 6:00 a.m. on 11/19/2019, MPD received 385 calls for service. This number does not include parking complaints or 911 misdials. A breakdown of the calls for service per district is as follows: Central (66), East (88), Midtown (57), North (51), South (39), West (55), and Other (29). "Other" is used for calls that either do not have a sector or the sector is not in the City. This would be used in the case of one of our officers assisting another law enforcement agency.
**Priority calls only from 1:17 a.m. to 1:36 a.m. due to calls for service.
CENTRAL: Disorderly Conduct – 10:31 a.m. Officers responded to the 600 block of E. Washington Ave for a report of a disturbance between two subjects (male victim and 40-year-old male suspect). The suspect was arrested for disorderly conduct.
WEST: Check Person – 10:51 a.m. Officers made contact with a 14-year-old male to check his welfare. The juvenile was conveyed voluntarily to a local hospital for an evaluation.
EAST: PNB/AED Response – 4:28 p.m. Officers responded to Walmart on Nakoosa Trail for a pulseless non-breathing subject (74-year-old female). An off-duty MPD officer was present and administered CCR until MFD arrived. The subject was conveyed to a local hospital in serious condition. Incident appears to be medically-related. Nothing suspicious identified.
NORTH: Drug Incident/Overdose – 5:48 p.m. Officers, along with EMS/MFD, responded to E. Washington Ave for a subject/suspect (41-year-old male) slumped over in a vehicle. MFD administered Naloxone to the suspect, which revived him. The suspect was conveyed to a local hospital for a medical clearance. The suspect was subsequently arrested and transported to jail on charges of possession of heroin and a probation/parole hold.
CENTRAL: Missing Adult – 7:10 p.m. Officers received a report that a missing adult (male) was observed on W. Washington Ave. Contact was made with the subject. No concerns were identified. The subject was removed as missing from the appropriate databases.
CENTRAL: Traffic Incident – 8:18 p.m. A traffic stop was conducted at E. Dayton St/N. Hamilton. Two of the passengers were arrested at the end of the traffic stop. One suspect (39-year-old female) had an outstanding warrant for retail theft. The second suspect (45-year-old male) attempted to flee from officers when drug paraphernalia was located. The male suspect was apprehended and arrested for resisting and possession of drug paraphernalia. The male suspect obtained a medical clearance prior to being conveyed to jail.
EAST: Disturbance – 9:06 p.m. Officers responded to a disturbance between two subjects (38-year-old male and 26-year-old male). Officers attempted to de-escalate the situation but both subjects/suspects continued with their poor behaviors. The 26-year-old male was cited for unlawful use of 911. The 38-year-old male was arrested for obstructing and threats to law enforcement.
SOUTH: Death Investigation – 9:29 p.m. Officers responded to a South district residence for a pulseless non-breathing child (7-year-old female). The child was conveyed to a local hospital where she was pronounced deceased. The child had significant medical concerns. Nothing suspicious identified. Medical Examiner's office responded.
EAST: Drug Incident – 10:33 p.m. MPD officer observed a vehicle driving erratically and striking a curb on E. Buckeye Road. Contact was made with the driver/suspect (18-year-old male). A search of the vehicle led to the discovery of cocaine and marijuana. A loaded gun was also found in the vehicle. The suspect was arrested for carrying a concealed weapon, possession with intent to deliver cocaine and possession with intent to deliver marijuana.
SOUTH: Assist Law Enforcement – 12:49 a.m. Officers assisted Fitchburg PD with a traffic stop on John Nolen and Rimrock due to the driver/suspect fleeing from the vehicle into a swamp area. MPD assisted with establishing/maintaining a perimeter. MPD K9s and the Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS) were also utilized. The suspect was located with the assistance of the Unmanned Aircraft System stuck in the mud. The suspect was transported to a local hospital for an evaluation/treatment due to his exposure. Fitchburg PD has the lead on this investigation.