The Madison Police Department released its response on Wednesday to recommendations that followed a comprehensive report of the department last December.
The original report, which was conducted by the OIR Group, a California-based research firm, found that the MPD succeeded in many facets but faced scrutiny particularly regarding community involvement and engagement.
The department’s response includes a statement for each of the 146 recommendations from the original report, but recommendations involving the department’s use of force and officer-involved critical incidents (OICI) were points of contention.
Regarding delayed interviews with officers involved with OICIs, the department disagreed with the recommendation that the department receive a statement from officers involved with or witnesses to an OICI before they’re released from their shift.
“In fact, requiring a day-of interview would have the inverse effect to that asserted by OIR: officers would (in all likelihood) decline voluntary interviews, and the criminal investigation would derive no benefit from the officer’s perspective,” the department wrote.
The city attorney also added a response noting that it “may have an adverse impact on any criminal investigation.”
According to MPD Chief Michael Koval, an additional factor is that when OICIs occur, investigations are taken over by an independent body, which for MPD is the state’s Division of Criminal Investigations.
“Literally besides preserving the scene and maybe getting the scene of some witnesses, that whole investigation is turned over to another agency all together,” he said. “For all intents and purposes, it’s their investigation and they’re dictating the timing of when, where and how that interview will take place.”
Additionally, the report recommended the department prohibit using more than three electronic control devices, otherwise known as tasers, on an individual, or a device that lasts longer than five seconds. The department felt that ECD use shouldn’t be restricted in case of a qualifying situation.
“An example would be a subject holding or attempting to access a weapon,” the department wrote. “An absolute prohibition on ECD use under these circumstances could result in officers being forced to employ higher levels of force.”
MPD agreed with the recommendation that the department establishes an independent police auditor but mentioned limitations to the project, namely cost and that the civilian review board the auditor would report to would need to be free of political motivations.
In its conclusion, the department said it found the OIR report to be a “constructive effort that can help the department improve.” It added that some improvements are more attainable than others.
Koval added that while implementation of recommendations is dependent on how much the city is willing to spend, advancing police engagement is an area he hopes to focus on immediately.
He specifically mentioned that opportunities where officers are “not just responding to crisis and chaos” are dependent on the amount of officers.
“Engagement, whether it be through face to face, or our opportunities to survey our constituents to see where we need to improve, those are the kinds of things that I think ultimately advance partnerships and feelings of trust,” he said.
This story was updated at 5:45 P.M.