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Saturday, May 18, 2024

UWPD Chief Riseling apologizes to students, professor following Thursday's arrest

UW-Madison Police Department Chief Susan Riseling released a statement Friday to address an officer’s decision to approach a student in a university classroom.

The statement came a day after UWPD officers arrested a student outside of a classroom. The student, Denzel J. McDonald, was presumed to have been guilty of 11 acts of vandalism that addressed racism on campus.

According to the statement, the officer believed the class had not yet started upon arrival. He then proceeded to approach the student and asked him to step into the hall. Chief Riseling issued an apology to the students and professor who were interrupted by the officers’ disruption.

“I extend my sincerest apologies to the students and the professor who were in this class and witnessed this interruption,” Riseling said in the statement.

The officer made the decision to confront McDonald in person after he had not received a response from several attempts to contact him otherwise.

“UWPD officers visiting campus classrooms for police investigations is not a common occurrence,” Riseling said in the statement. “Typically this happens after officers have used several other means to contact an individual they need to speak with.”

UW-Madison faculty, staff and students released a letter Friday condemning the officers’ decision to disrupt a classroom to speak with and later arrest McDonald. The letter also questioned whether the police actions occurred because of the graffiti’s content.

Riseling said in the statement that UWPD’s response was not due to the content of the graffiti. She said a review of the officers' actions will occur, and all surveillance footage associated with the contact will be released in the near future. 

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