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Chief Wray's Blog

MPD's Efforts to Reduce and Eliminate Racial and Cultural Disparities

January 24, 2014 11:33 AM

The Madison Police Department recognizes racial disparities within the criminal justice system and is committed to helping mitigate the issues that impact this problem.  One of our core values is that we value diversity.  We value diversity in our community and also as to the make-up of our Department.  We are continuously working to reduce racial disparities within our community.  Some of these efforts are captured in a "living' document that was created as a result of our involvement in a year-long Task Force that examined disparities in the Criminal justice System. I encourage you to check out our website which gives a detailed report, with examples, of some of these trust-based initiatives and collaborative efforts we have in place in order to make a difference in reducing and eliminated racial and cultural disparities in our community:

One initiative that our Department started in 2010 was the development of the Unconscious Bias Group and their development of a training called "Judgment Under the Radar."  The purpose of this training and group is to bring greater awareness of the sensitivities groups may have within the organization and in the community by focusing on three important topics: racial disparities in the criminal justice system, policing in a multifaceted society and pending changes in immigration legislation throughout the country.  The training is also intended to show how biases can create an impediment to how members of our Department interact with people and how, with a deeper understanding of these issues, we can work with the community to abate them. 

The Unconscious Bias Group is made up of police officers, members of our community and members of other city agencies.  The Judgment Under the Radar training has been presented to various groups over the past several years with the hope and mission to address ways of policing in a multifaceted society which involves various cultures, values, traditions and beliefs.  Those involved in receiving this training include law enforcement officers not only within our department but from other local law enforcement agencies as well.  In order to bring awareness to this initiative the training has been offered in multiple different ways to a variety of individuals which included:

    • Break-out session to those that attended the Mayor's Neighborhood Conference
    • Local chiefs at the YWCA in Rockford, Illinois
    • Members of the City of Madison
    • City of Madison Employee Assistant Program employees
    • City of Madison Human Resource employees
    • New recruits at Madison Police Department
    • Law enforcement officials throughout the area
    • Break-out session at the YWCA Racial Justice Summit

There are several Judgment Under the Radar trainings scheduled in 2014 in order to continue our mission of being committed to valuing diversity.

The Madison Police Department has also developed other initiatives to help with our mission to reduce racial disparities.  Some of these initiatives include: development and implementation of Neighborhood Police Officers, Community Policing Teams, Special Investigations Unit, Community/Youth Court (Restorative Justice Approach), creation of City ordinances for battery and theft (decriminalization of these offenses), Latino and Black Youth Academies, Town Hall meetings, community outreach programs such as Amigos en Azul and a Safety Education Unit. 

Our Department is further involved in additional initiatives such as the Boys & Girls Club Avid Tops Summer Exploration Program.  This program is a combined effort between our Department, the Madison Metropolitan School District and the Boys & Girls Club of Dane County to narrow the racial and socioeconomic achievement gap as well as to prepare students for success in college and beyond.  The students are exposed to a wide range of career options by learning about them and also seeing first-hand where individuals in these careers work.  One of the largest areas of career interest has been in criminal justice and investigation.  
One of our newest initiatives within our department is the creation of a Diversity/Inclusion team which is comprised of a diverse group of Madison Police employees.  As with our mission of valuing diversity, we want our Department to be a reflection of the community in which we serve.  We are committed to diversity and providing an environment that values and uses the contributions of people with different backgrounds, experiences and perspectives.  Our community and department continue to change and grow which allows us to advance our diversity efforts from recruitment, retention, inclusion and promotion.  The Diversity/Inclusion team will review our current diversity efforts and address real or perceived barriers experienced by some individuals gaining access to employment, development or promotional opportunities.  We will continue to explore innovative and flexible strategies to attract, recruit and retain the best people to remain competitive and to better serve our diverse community. 

The Madison Police Department recognizes that our work in reducing disparity is never complete and we commit to any and all actions that contribute to all members of our community being treated with dignity, respect and equal protection and representation.  We will remain transparent in our policies, procedures and practices in order to maintain and build trust with our diverse community.  We will also continue to keep the issue of cultural and racial disparity in the forefront as we continue to work in partnership with all stakeholders committed to this issue.

Posted by: Interim Chief Gaber

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