The position of Langdon Street Resource Officer will be removed from the Madison Police Department as a result of ongoing understaffing and underfunding, according to current Langdon Street Officer Damion Figueroa.
Instead, there will be one officer responsible for patrolling popular campus blocks — Langdon, Gilman, State, University, Basset, Mifflin, Frances and other streets. Consequently, there will be a significant decrease in the amount of police oversight on Langdon Street.
Figueroa held the position for the past two years, serving as a liaison between UW-Madison’s Greek office and various parties like MPD, private security firms, property management companies, as well as students living Langdon Street.
The Madison Police and Fire Commission, who supervises hiring processes within the police department, refused to comment on the change. MPD was unavailable to comment.
Officer Figueroa will also work with the new UW-Madison Downtown Liaison Officer to provide information on the neighborhood and what current safety concerns look like — this year alone has seen cases of residential burglary, battery and sexual assault, according to MPD.
Langdon Street houses the majority of UW-Madison’s fraternities and sororities and is a well-known hub for parties and drinking culture on campus.
Officer Figueroa has worked closely with greek life — they even inform him of all registered parties and tailgates.
“Police [presence] is very important because when we know where people are going, we can provide safety for that area,” Figueroa said. “It provides us the information of where things are happening so we can provide maybe an extra eye or some resources within that area.”
Many sororities and fraternities fear potential consequences of the change, mainly regarding students’ safety, Gamma Phi Beta President Lily Warner said.
“Everyone’s concerned given that there has been serious incidents that have resulted in truly near-death experiences,” Warner said. “The only reason that people in those situations were able to receive help so quickly is because there was an officer who was stationed on Langdon.”
Fraternities and sororities on campus said they felt “blindsided” by the news, according to Warner.
“The school didn't take the time to reach out to let us know the areas we are operating in were going to [have] less police presence,” Warner said. “I can't communicate to chapter members to be more aware on Langdon if I don't know that there's something wrong.”
Officer Figueroa’s last day as regional officer will be Jan. 26. He said students who are upset about the change should reach out to Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway and UW-Madison.
“We knew that Officer Figueroa was always dedicated to the issues pertaining to our neighborhood, which always was a comfort,” Warner said. “Without that, it feels like we're being left behind in the safety narrative.”
[Editor’s Note: 10/30/2019, 8:00 a.m.] An earlier version of this story had information from Jordan Parsbrig, Chair of the Student Services Finance Committee of Associated Students of Madison, which he has since retracted.