Koval Says He Wants Officers To Help Rebuild Trust With Madison Community

Madison Police Chief Says He's Encouraged Officers To Be More Visible

Gilman Halsted/WPR

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said he’s asking his officers to help the community heal after the Friday police shooting of an unarmed black teenager.

Tony Robinson, 19, was fatally shot Friday night by an officer who forced his way into an apartment after hearing a disturbance while responding to a call. Police say Robinson attacked the officer.

Koval said police have what he called a “trust gap” with the public, and they needed to get that trust back.

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“Have those courageous conversations as people would allow. Go to the food court, go to the schools, play a game of horse on the basketball court. We need to show that we are members of the community as well,” he said.

Chief Koval rejected the idea that there’s a problem with racism in the Madison Police Department. However, he said he knows that Madison will be under more scrutiny given the circumstances of this case.

“That narrative will land you in the same sort of plight or conundrum that Ferguson or others have found themselves in. That’s a theme that has been played out all too often on a national plane, and now regrettably, we too are a part of that discussion more than ever,” said Koval.

Meanwhile, Koval said he wants to “foster and facilitate” protests by people who are angry at the Robinson shooting. On Monday, police blocked off streets while roughly 1,500 people demonstrated in downtown and east-side Madison.