Chief Koval: ‘Unrelenting toxicity’ to blame for lowered officer morale

Chief Koval: ‘Unrelenting toxicity’ to blame for lowered officer morale

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval identified the divisive national discourse about policing as the cause of several recent officer resignations after writing a blog post on the subject on Wednesday.

Koval said that four officers have resigned in recent months in part because of increased public scrutiny. He said that the combination of increasingly dangerous daily duties and stress caused by “narratives about police as the foils of racism” have led some officers to question their careers.

“This sort of toxicity towards the police is the new normal,” Koval said to News 3. “It’s not a moment, it’s a movement, and I think that weighs very heavily on the psyche of an officer who has a job to do on a day in day out basis.”

In his blog post, Koval points to this environment as a challenge to officers who feel overworked and have little time to recover and tend to their mental health.

He said that the Madison Police Department has felt the impact of early departures by officers, and that the issue “is going to be a chronic discussion for years to come that far transcends the city’s fiscal capacities. It goes to the heart of recruitment, retention, health and wellness.”

MPD Daily Significant Calls 11/27/2018 to 11/28/2018: It’s been happening all too frequently. One of my of

— Madison Police (@madisonpolice) November 28, 2018

Executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association Jim Palmer confirmed these concerns among officers across the state.

“In representing members across the state, we have found that to be a growing sentiment among those in law enforcement,” he said.

Though some officers are beginning to feel this pressure, Palmer said that evidence points to high public confidence in law enforcement on the state and national levels.

He said that many police officials feel that media coverage of policing highlights controversial incidents, causing the perception of increased public outcry among law enforcement, leading to “a decline in the number of people pursuing careers in the profession.”

To Koval, the issue extends beyond just perception, as experienced officers resign leaving more young officers in the police force.

“We are going to be policing with what we hope is the best and brightest that our society has to offer,” Koval told News 3. “And if we settle because we have to settle for just warm bodies, then obviously the unintended consequences of that are not good.”

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