Madison mayor provides update on city work related to criminal justice reform, crime prevention, racial disparities

Mayor Satya Rhodes Conway Wearing Mask 1280

MADISON, Wis. — Over the past three months, Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway says the city has been working to advance police reform, start reimagining public safety and invest in the community.

A release outlined some of the projects that the city is currently working on and is also planning to work on in the coming days and weeks.

“There is a lot of work to be done to continue to dismantle structural racism, reimagine public safety, and invest in our community. My office and the whole of City government is dedicated to advancing this work in collaboration with the community,” Rhodes-Conway said.

One of the efforts is removing police from Madison Metropolitan School District. The police contract ended, and the community can share input on where the school district should reinvest the money from their budget here.

Rhodes-Conway said there is legislation underway to create a Civilian Oversight Board and an Independent Police Monitor in response to the community’s desire for community control of police.

“I support the creation of this Board and Office, and want to make sure they are set up for success,” Rhodes-Conway said. “I feel the current proposal should include additional measures to ensure that we hire and support an experienced professional as monitor, and I am hopeful that the mouncil will make any changes needed to make this a successful oversight structure.”

The city and county are working together to examine alternative, non-police responses to behavioral health calls. Rhodes-Conway said an alternative crisis response team would lift calls off police, allowing them to focus on violent crimes.

The Public Safety Review Committee is reviewing the police department budget and use of force policies, Rhodes-Conway said. The Police and Fire Commission is asking for community input in relation to hiring the city’s next police chief.

The city is hiring an Equity Manager to lead city government’s racial equity and social justice work.

Another initiative is investing in wealth-building strategies for people of color and business owners of color. Rhodes-Conway said this is aimed at reducing racial disparities in the community. Some of the projects include supporting homeownership programs, supporting immigrant families, helping small businesses purchase storefronts and subsidizing zero interest, zero fee loans through Kiva.

In the future, Rhodes-Conway said the city will be working on the Ad Hoc Task Force on Police Policy and Procedure’s recommendations. They will also work on their strategy of addressing violence as a public health issue. Through the 2021 budget, the city is aiming to invest in affordable housing and economic development. They hope to expand the availability of childcare to low-income families. The city also hopes to create more internships and jobs for young people.