Madison Police Department outlines progress on reforms on anniversary of Floyd’s death

Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes

MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Police Department is marking the one-year anniversary of George Floyd’s death by providing an update on police reforms and recommendations on changes to department policies.

Saying his department acknowledges the anniversary of “the murder of George Floyd at the hands of a former police officer,” the memo from Chief Shon Barnes outlines several recommendations made by the Police Executive Research Forum and where his department currently stands on those recommendations.

Among the recommendations being made to police departments following Floyd’s death are banning chokeholds, restricting no-knock warrants, requiring officers to wear body cameras, weaken qualified immunity for officers, restricting the role of police chiefs in imposing officer discipline, establishing civilian oversight boards, requiring de-escalation training, involve other agencies in responding to mental health calls, reassigning police officers who serve as school resource officers, developing a database of officers who have been fired or resigned instead of being terminated, prohibiting officers from placing a knee on a suspect’s back, focusing on communications and critical thinking in police academies, investing in leadership training and embracing evidence-based policing.

“The Madison Police Department is working hard to meet the expectations of our community and this era of police reform,” Barnes said in his memo. “We are committed to action and being accountable to our community. We believe that we are better when we work in partnership to improve our community.”

In response to the recommendations, Barnes noted the Madison Police Department already has many of those policies in place, including chokeholds being banned for at least 30 years, officers announcing themselves before serving a “no-knock” warrant, department support for body cameras (an issue that has been held up in the city’s common council for years), no protections for Madison officers who violate clearly established rules through qualified immunity, and de-escalation training for the department that was held this spring.

Many of the changes in policy and training have been proposed or approved in the past year following Floyd’s death, although some were in the works for years before Floyd’s death.

You can read Chief Barnes’ full response to the recommendations below.