City News

Internal review of the MPD highlights successes, areas of improvement

A woman reported a sexual assault early Sunday morning occuring on Ohio Street after receiving a ride from downtown.

Image By: Katie Schiedt

An internal review of the Madison Police Department released Thursday afternoon found that the department is often effective, but faces similar scrutiny to police around the country in terms of community engagement and involvement.

The review, done by OIR Group, a California-based research firm that conducts assessments of law enforcement agencies nationwide, broke the review into five parts: MPD and the Madison community, MPD response to critical incidents, use of force, internal culture and protocol and civilian oversight.

“Much of the above dynamic and circumstance experienced nationally has also played out in Madison and continues to do so,” the review began by saying.

It specifically cited the deaths of Paul Heenan and Tony Robinson — both fatal officer-involved shootings — as incidents that sparked controversy and feelings of mistrust towards the department.

But the review added that the MPD is “far from a ‘Department in crisis,’” saying that it is an agency with “many strengths.” However, it noted the department’s pride in its success also contributes to its resistance to criticism.

“And when that [resistance] happens, it can interfere with the kind of rigorous and formalized self-scrutiny that helps very good agencies become excellent ones, and helps excellent ones respond more effectively to the constant and shifting challenges of public safety,” the report stated.

The report included nearly 150 recommendations for the department, many of which encouraged the department to continue some of its positive practices. But the review also suggested the department garner more community input in decisions such as the hiring of a new police chief.

It further recommended that the city establish an independent police auditor’s office that reports to a civilian police review body.

Mayor Paul Soglin thanked the department and its Policy and Procedure Review Ad Hoc committee for their support of the review.

“The City Council and I look forward to receiving the final recommendations from the MPD Policy Review committee, the Madison Police Department, the Police and Fire Commission, and all interested people,” he wrote in a press release. “We are committed to performance excellence within the City of Madison in continuous improvement in serving our city of Madison residents.”

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