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ASM passes legislation requesting transparency, accountability from UWPD

Student Council passed legislation Wednesday advocating for transparency and accountability from UWPD.

Student Council passed legislation Wednesday advocating for transparency and accountability from UWPD.

Image By: Cameron Lane-Flehinger

The Associated Students of Madison are demanding transparency and accountability from the UW-Madison Police Department, and calling for community supervision of the department.

Passed by a unanimous vote Wednesday night, their legislation said that UW-Madison Police Chief Kristen Roman “shall fully cooperate with the creation of a community accountability board that oversees the hiring and firing of police officers that discriminate.” The board will aim to hold officers accountable to the campus community.

“I believe that it is important that our campus community does hold our police department accountable,” Rep. Denzel Bibbs said. “Issues like these start at the local level. We are going to hold [our local officials] accountable so that our police department reflects the safety that we want in our community.”

Prior to ASM’s session, UWPD issued a statement addressing the group’s legislation. The statement defended Roman, citing instances in which she has reached out to ASM encouraging communication.

“The timing of this legislation is disappointing, given UWPD’s history of openness and our willingness to listen to feedback and make changes,” the statement reads. “Chief Roman has consistently invited conversations about how to increase community involvement.”

UWPD emphasizes Roman’s participation in a February discussion with ASM in which she encouraged the group to reach out and meet with her to “keep those conversations going.” After receiving feedback from the group on the Feb. 27 Crime Warning, Chief Roman pledged to improve the Crime Warning process.

This is not the first time ASM and UWPD have clashed on the issue of transparency. Student Council introduced a resolution asking UWPD to be transparent about the equipment they own last September and asked for these expectations to be met by the end of the month. UWPD met this deadline, launching a website listing each piece of equipment they own.

Although ASM members acknowledged Roman’s efforts to create an advisory board, they said this is not enough and that an accountability board would be more effective in engaging the community.

“This bill does an excellent job at highlighting the need for more accountability for our police, and also acknowledges the history of where [this issue] comes from,” Rep. Tyriek Mack said. “This is a fight that has been going on for decades. This bill is truly a testament to a lot of work that has been done on this campus over the last couple of years.”

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