Independent Group Presents Preliminary Review Of Madison Police Policy And Procedures

Full Report To Be Released In December

A Madison Police Department recruit gets into a squad car
A Madison Police Department recruit gets into a squad car. Bridgit Bowden/WPR

An independent consulting firm reviewing the Madison Police Department’s policies and procedures has given its preliminary findings to a citizen review committee.

The review follows the 2015 killing of Tony Robinson, an unarmed black 19-year-old, by a Madison Police officer. The OIR Group, an independent police oversight and review firm, was hired to complete the review after a contentious city council meeting in the summer of 2016. At that meeting, funding for the review was increased to $400,000 from $50,000.

Michael Gennaco, a consultant with the OIR Group, said Wednesday the department is “impressive and effective,” but there are still improvements to be made. He noted the Madison community is generally more engaged with public life than other cities, and therefore has very high expectations of its government and police department.

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In investigating the department’s culture, the group questioned if the department is really what it claims to be — one of the most progressive, “culturally competent” departments in the nation.

The report, which will be released in full in December, includes recommendations on community engagement, internal review, training, use of force and other topics.

It includes a recommendation for an enhanced process for reviewing so-called “critical incidents,” which include shootings, in-custody deaths, and car crashes that include squad cars. This process would provide feedback about how the department can learn from critical incidents and improve its procedures, Gennaco said.

Julie Ruhlin, also a consultant with the OIR Group, said they were “generally impressed” with the department’s training procedures. She said the group would provide recommendations for new recruits to engage with the Madison community before they hit the streets in full uniform.

These recommendations were made to the Madison Police Department Policy and Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee. Earlier this year, a separate set of police policy changes was ordered by the city council.