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Chief Koval's Blog

"Shots Fired" Task Force

May 22, 2015 1:07 PM


UPDATE: See the attached video for the press conference held on 5/22/15 regarding this matter

As I draft this blog, a coordinated response of MPD command staff, specialized units (including Violent Crime, Burglary, Gang, Special Investigations, Dane County Narcotics Task Force, Community Policing Teams, SWAT, Criminal Intelligence), detectives, investigators, and police officers are all focusing attention at rounding up wanted persons and those for whom we have probable cause to believe have committed crimes against specific victims and our community.  We are being assisted in this robust endeavor by many law enforcement partners including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms (ATF), the State of Wisconsin's Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI), the Department of Corrections/Probation and Parole, the Dane County District Attorney's Office, and the Town of Madison Police Department.


Why all of these resources and why now?  Thirty five "shots fired" calls in a little over one month's time.  Innocent third party victims to include one woman nearly shot as she drove her car down a major arterial street of Madison, one woman grazed in a restaurant/bar, one man shot in the arm, and one (of many) close calls involving a child minding her own business sitting in her home.  The frequency and scope of these brazen gun violence calls has now intensified to the point where they are taking place in all sectors of the city, and even during broad daylight hours.


When we think about the path of least resistance in using police resources in an efficacious and humane way, the point of emphasis for MPD has always been to start with building and strengthening relationships on our calls, in our neighborhoods, through our schools, and with the assistance of external stakeholders.    Nothing will ever change or diminish this priority as we continue to expand our reach in community policing precepts and problem solving initiatives.  As this is the foundation of who we are and what we want to be, it is important that I take each and every opportunity I can to remind folks that these are the values of a Department committed to a philosophy of police as "guardians" of all of our constituents.


But there will be times, as is the case right now, where the guardians must act as shepherds to the "flock" and take a definitive and affirmative step to repel the wolves from the defenseless sheep.  Those who prey on one another and use our streets and neighborhoods as a firing range, paying no heed to the safety of innocent people, must be caught and held accountable for their actions.  I am all for using a graduated approach of prevention and intervention prior to bringing the full force of the statutory authority of the police to bear.  But there comes a time when we must shift gears to "suppression."  That's where we are at today and that is what has been taking place the past 48 hours and continuing until such time as is needed.


Individuals we are targeting have been known to us as having outstanding warrants, existing probable cause for independent charges, are known to either threaten or commit violent acts, and are associated with gangs and weapons.   Our intelligence comes from many sources including citizen witnesses, informants, forensics, and internal intelligence gathering.  At the end of the day, it is my hope that while there remain challenges ahead in making cases on each and every "shots fired" incident we have on the books, it is my hope that we are sending a strong and unequivocal message to those who persist in these behaviors that we will be unrelenting in our pursuit of them.  We have also sent personnel out into the fields, in what we term "focused deterrence," to put individuals on notice that we will be coming down hard on gun violence. Door -to-door engagement is also being used in some areas to enlist the support of neighbors to come forward with concerns or suspicions as they are occurring in real time.


To better illustrate my thought process on this strategic plan, consider an equilateral triangle.  Call it a crime or problem analysis triangle.  One leg of the triangle is titled chronic "locations."  One leg could be termed "susceptible victims." As we have experienced this rash of gun fire throughout our City, I cannot easily anticipate or reinforce resources aimed solely by "location."  With respect to "susceptible victims," the only true victims have been innocent third parties, at random.  So there is not a particular "type" or "profile" of victims that I can concentrate on in devising ways to make or keep them "safer."  So it comes down to the third leg of the triangle---the offender(s).  It is with this group that we see a common stream of themes that are being perpetually played out.  Gang-associated individuals whose extent of problem solving acumen seems to rest with shooting at one another in rolling gun battles.


I am frustrated that a dozen or so individuals can wreak such havoc on a community.  That is why this de facto task force has been carefully scripted to unleash all that we can muster in an attempt to slow down the spiraling gun violence. Desperate times call for drastic measures and we must do something aggressive in an attempt to restore confidence in public safety.  Will it be an outright "success?"  Too early to say, but I do know that since arresting seven people over the course of the last two days, we are having an impact. It will not put an end to the violence, but I hope that one of the key goals for this effort can be advanced:  "homicide prevention."


Posted by: Chief Koval

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