Madison officer takes kid-friendly approach to busting crime

Neighborhood patrols take place on city's north side
Madison officer takes kid-friendly approach to busting crime

Katie Adler found a young boy she didn’t recognize.

“What’s your name, (honey)?” Adler asked the boy, whose name was Arthur. “Good to meet you. I’m Officer Katie.”

Adler is the Madison Police neighborhood officer assigned to the community along Packers Avenue and Northport Drive, on the city’s troubled North Side. Her beat includes 585 apartment units in a half-dozen apartment complexes.

Adler’s approach is decidedly hands-on, literally leading children down the sidewalk toward their parents, which she said allows residents to see that police officers are there to help them.

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“I really feel at home here,” Adler said, even though she doesn’t live in the neighborhood. “I know that the North Side — especially the Northport corridor — has had struggles. There are good people and I want everyone in the city to know that.”

Kids are especially drawn to Adler, and she attracted about a dozen young followers as she patrolled the Packer Townhouses on Sunday.

One of those residents who’ve formed a bond with Adler is Marie Nofodji, a 16-year-old junior at Madison East High School. The two share a connection because Nofodji wants to become a police officer, a passion that Adler aided with a job shadow opportunity.

“Some people, they have a bad perspective on police officers, that all they care about is getting people in trouble,” Nofodji said. “But (Adler) gives the perspective that not all of them are like that.”

Despite the hundreds of kids Adler has come to know, their adult actions don’t always make her proud.

A near-fatal shooting on nearby Brentwood Parkway in early May hit close to Adler’s heart.

“I knew a lot of those guys,” she said. “I was disappointed, and I went through this whole grieving process about that, of being so angry and disappointed and sad. And, you know, if I just didn’t care, then maybe I wouldn’t have those emotions.”

Adler’s community patrols will end in February, because she’ll hit her 5-year limit on the neighborhood beat, she said.

Many of the neighborhood’s problems are the result of women who won’t break away from bad relationships and from boys who don’t have good adult role models, Adler said.

“The thing is, they could have anything they want, and just by making bad choices, they (can’t),” she said. “I’ll keep plugging along and seeing if I can make a difference, and if I touch one person, that’ll make it for me.”

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