Madison police say educational programs will help curb crime

MPD West District starts community reading program
Madison police say educational programs will help curb crime
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Madison police are asking you to give a gift that keeps on giving this holiday season. They’re raising money to pay for tutors for at-risk kids on the west side, in particular.

The Madison Police Department’s West District has seen a spike in burglaries and car thefts over the past year. Most of those crimes have been committed by juveniles. But instead of blaming them, officers are offering to help, and they’re asking you to do so, too.

Officers say there is no one answer, but they believe education is a fundamental part of the solution.

The department’s new ‘community reading fund’ will raise money this holiday season to pay for tutors for dozens of at-risk kids.

The fund will pay to send teachers and reading specialists to the homes of at-risk kids. Those services are pricey. Tutors cost an average of $40 an hour, which would add up to more than $1,000 for 28 weeks. Madison police have a goal of paying for tutors for 30 kids- which will cost more than $30,000.

Madison officers cite data that shows when children are not given the tools and support to succeed, they start to disengage and lose interest in school. That’s when they often turn to crime.

“It becomes a big snowball effect for us, when they get behind in school, they act out and don’t go to school, they act out in their neighborhood, and we ultimately end up dealing with them,” said Lt. Mike Hanson of the Madison Police Department’s West District.

Officers say they know the money for the program is there; it’s now up to you to redirect it. They say that every year, the Madison community collectively donates more than $300,000 to various charity drives for kids. Most of those organizations help pay for Christmas toys, but officers argue those toys have a shelf life- they’re quickly outgrown, abandoned, or thrown away.

That’s why they’re asking the public to consider the long-term benefits of contributing to the ongoing educational needs of a child, a gift they say will keep on giving.

“This initiative is a huge step forward or investment in the community,” said Hanson. “We’re teaching kids to get caught up in reading, we’re building their confidence socially, and hopefully through that, they’re realizing right from wrong and the doors that open up with the power of an education.”

“The initial part of this program will be for those kids who we’ve had contact with in the police realm of this and we also know are behind in reading skills. As this program is funded more seriously or we find a greater need for this or prove the success of it, we encourage anyone who is behind in reading at the youth age to be a part of it.”

The Madison Community Policing Foundation is accepting donations online and by mail for a newly created ‘community reading fund.’ You can donate at madisoncommunitypolicingfoundation.org. Or label your check “MCPF – Community Read” and send it to the Madison Community Policing Foundation at P.O. Box 44246, Madison, Wisconsin, 53744.

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