The Associated Students of Madison (ASM) will hold a vote of No Confidence in the University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department (UWPD) at their meeting on Tuesday.
Following their meeting with UWPD leadership on Thursday, Sept. 24, ASM attributes the vote to UWPD’s presence at off-campus protests, neglect to comply with #8cantwaitstandards and lack of willingness to accommodate all or most of ASM’s requested reforms.
At the Thursday meeting, ASM raised concerns with UWPD, including their use of chemical equipment, their staffing equity and diversity plan, a request to hire an independent auditor and more proposed reform. ASM Grant Allocation Committee Chair and Student Services Finance Committee Representative Samuel Jorudd introduced the vote of No Confidence, a vote indicating that ASM no longer has confidence in UWPD which could lead to more reforms.
“Our goal in the meeting was to allow UWPD the opportunity to renew our confidence in them,” said Jorudd. “I introduced a vote of no confidence in UWPD, and because some representatives expressed concern that I hadn’t met with the chief, my team and I decided to do exactly that. While the meeting didn’t go terribly, we were disappointed that the chief and her team were not open to more of these reforms. They cared more about defending themselves than listening to what we had to say, so I would say our confidence was not renewed.”
One of the items on the agenda that Jorudd was concerned about was initiatives related to the 8 Can’t Wait campaign, a push for more restrictive policies involving the use of force. While UWPD claims to meet all 8 Can’t Wait benchmarks — which includes the ban of all chokeholds and strangleholds — ASM pointed out discrepancies, including UWPD’s policy of “chokeholds or neck restraints, are not allowed unless the officer is justified in using deadly force and no other alternative is available.”
While some of ASM’s issues raised with UWPD were explained, others were denied completely.
“When we brought up the request for them to hire an independent auditor, they informed us that they were accredited, which means they go through a similar audit process not just once, but three times,” Jorudd said. “[But] the only reforms they gave a firm no [to getting rid of] were banning officers from residence halls except when HFs request, giving 3 warnings before using deadly force and the ban of shooting at moving vehicles.”
UWPD Director of Communications Marc Lovicott had a different take on the meeting’s outcome.
“Our leadership at UWPD had a very good and constructive conversation with ASM leaders Thursday morning,” Lovicott said. “Much of the meeting was listening and clarifying facts about our department's response to the protests in downtown Madison this past summer. There's been quite a bit of misinformation shared, which we worked to clear up in our meeting.”
Lovicott was referring to allegations that UWPD officers deployed tear gas at protests in late May and early June where they assisted Madison police officers in crowd control measures. UWPD has repeatedly denied those claims.
One answer that Jorudd was pleased with was UWPD’s response to his concern about the lack of Black staff and the minimal diversity among the UWPD ranks.
“We discussed their staffing equity and diversity plan, which I was pleasantly surprised to find was quite in-depth,” said Jorudd. “They plan to completely revamp the UWPD hiring process, which I and my team were very happy to hear.”
ASM and UWPD also agreed to set up a regular meeting time to continue the dialogue between organizations. In her Sept. 22 “Chief’s Corner” blog post, UWPD Chief Kristen Roman discussed the importance of sharing ideas.
“As your Chief, I understand the vital role that the UWPD plays in the facilitation of open debate and the free exchange of ideas,” said Roman. “Indeed, I and all UWPD officers have sworn an oath to uphold these and other constitutional principles. Regardless of our personally held beliefs or opinions, as peacekeepers charged with the responsibility to safely facilitate expressions of the First Amendment, there is only one side on which police can and should choose to be: On the side of peace.”
Jorudd appreciates UWPD’s efforts to set up a regular meeting time, and encourages students to continue the conversation.
“Every single person on campus has a voice, and they can use it,” said Jorudd. “Every other Tuesday, the Student Council meets, and starts the meeting with an open forum. During the meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 29, the vote of no confidence will take place. If you agree with me and would like to make your voice heard, register in support of this vote and speak at the open forum.”
Students can access Tuesday’s ASM meeting at 7 p.m. on Zoom.