Campus News

After over a semester as UWPD chief, Roman revisits her goals

UWPD Chief Kristen Roman says she is improving relations and transparency between UWPD and the campus community.

Image By: Katie Scheidt

When Kristen Roman was sworn in as the new UW-Madison police chief last spring, she stepped into the role with lofty ambitions. However, her first meeting with the Associated Students of Madison last February revealed some doubts students had about her intentions. With more than a semester now under her belt, Roman contends that she is sticking to her goals.

Only a few weeks into her new position, Roman visited different shared governance groups on campus to facilitate open conversations, outline goals and stress that she wanted to maintain an open-door policy with the campus community.

“I really want to focus on having those community conversations around the relationship that the community has with police and what role we play in supporting and furthering the mission of the UW and supporting students and faculty in the day-to-day work that we’re doing,” Roman said last year.

During her rounds to different campus groups, Roman presented her goals to the Associated Students of Madison, which last year demanded that UWPD release a list of all their weapons after citing the need for greater transparency and accountability to the community.

UW-Madison senior Tyriek Mack, then an ASM representative, disagreed with the way Roman responded to students who called for community control of the police. According to Mack, Roman had not listened to the students’ whole argument, and Mack questioned her commitment to responding to the campus.

“I have a lot of hesitancy,” Mack said. “I feel as though the relationships that you had as a part of MPD with the community of Madison — I just don’t feel like it was genuine.”

Roman assured representatives that her intentions were good.

About eight months later, Roman says she is improving relations and transparency between UWPD and the campus community through the creation of “Chief's Corner,” a blog where she routinely posts updates on topics related to the police and campus.

Roman now plans to establish a Community Advisory Council by the end of the semester. The committee would be comprised of leaders in the community, and would serve as a forum for “ongoing feedback and the exchange of information” used to hear from the community about their expectations for their police department and what concerns them in terms of campus safety and community safety, according to Roman.

Roman said that once the Community Advisory Council is implemented, she would like to establish a similar offshoot committee comprised solely of students.

“I’m hoping to put in place this exchange so that there’s communication with individuals and with groups that aren’t always heard and don’t always feel that we are listening,” Roman said.

Regarding sexual assault, UWPD debuted a new awareness campaign this year entitled “We Believe You.” According to Roman, while prevention and education efforts are always a priority, the department is also trying to focus on the issue of underreporting sexual assault and taking victims seriously.

“What we try to do with [the campaign] is be visible, to send a message that we care, that we start by believing, and we want victims to feel comfortable coming forward to report to us,” Roman said.

According to ASM Chair Katrina Morrison, Roman’s efforts have not gone unnoticed. Morrison highlighted UWPD’s increased connections with the campus community as a major success.

“UWPD has been making good strides to be better accessible to different communities and be more transparent,” Morrison said. Morrison specifically cited Roman’s collaboration with community leaders and availability to students in building and strengthening UWPD relationships in the campus community.

While Morrison acknowledged Roman’s efforts, ASM’s chair still has goals for the chief.

“My biggest goal for Chief Roman is that she continues to engage the community of color and that she tries to uncover what the police department can do better so that they don’t perpetuate stereotypes and ensure that students of color are safe on this campus and not just majority students,” Morrison said.

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