Former Madison police chief: ‘Stop the killing’

Former Madison police chief: ‘Stop the killing’
David Couper

Echoing a recent blog entry, former Madison Police chief turned Episcopal Priest David Couper made a passionate recommendation for stopping police shootings.

“The issue of race is not going to go away. We’ve got so much work to do,” Couper said. “There are some specific things I think citizens can do, working with police to improve things.”

During his Edgewood College “New Police for a New Era” speech, Couper emphasized the decades-old community policing philosophy he used as chief, which he now believes should be a national standard.

In what he calls a “Prescription for Police to Change,” Cooper said:

Listen to those whom you serve — all of them
Make a commitment to review and restrict your use of force and most especially deadly force Tell the community what and why you are doing it
Ask their support and help Practice restraint, control your biases, de-militarize, teach your officers de-escalation and other methods of managing conflict Start policing at the neighborhood level — get closer, much closer, to those you serve

“We need smart, well-educated diverse police officers, who are controlled with the use of force, who are honest, and who will work with our communities. And to me that sounds like Madison,” Couper said.

Despite the officer-involved shooting of Tony Robinson, Couper said the Madison Police Department is meeting many of those goals.

“I hope what we learn here in Madison in the coming months and coming years we can share with other departments around the country. We’ve got the ability to do that,” Couper said.

However, Couper predicted if his advice is ignored nationally, it will lead to angrier communities, and could go as far as leading to communities never trusting police again.

“If the police and the community are separate, if they go their different ways, if blacks do not respect police, we’ve got a major problem,” Couper said. “And what happens is we’ll have a police that looks like a third world police department.”

Couper has spent a lot of time out of the spotlight over the last two decades since retiring. But with police shootings in the news so much, he now finds himself at the center of many of these discussions.