Mayor responds to Chief Koval’s desire for more officers

Mayor responds to Chief Koval’s desire for more officers

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and police Chief Mike Koval are sparring over Koval’s request for additional police officers to patrol the city days after seven gun-related crimes in the city.

Friday, Soglin accused Koval of campaigning for funds. He claims the chief’s actions could lead to a breakdown of city government if other city departments decided to take the same approach.

Soglin’s comments come after a Tuesday press conference called to address a spree of gun violence around the city. In response to a reporter’s question, Koval expressed the need for additional officers.

“I’m way down on officers. I’ve said for the last two years no matter what benchmarks you use, whether it’s workload, ratios … we’re decidedly understaffed,” Koval said Tuesday.

The incidents prompted the chief to call Monday night, when the incidents occurred, a “horribly compelling night of crime” during the news conference.

Soglin sent a memo to all department heads regarding budgets Thursday.

“Failure to follow the budget process is not acceptable […] particularly utilizing campaigns to increase departmental funding, it will result in my taking appropriate steps to maintain control of the development and adoption of the agency’s budget,” he wrote in a memo.

He did not mention Koval by name or the department, but said that he sent the email out of concern after hearing Koval’s comments.

“If this is going to happen with the police chief, you can expect 30 or 40 division heads to have a similar press conference and what will come of that is no perspective in terms of the overall needs of the city,” Soglin said.

Madison Police Department spokesperson Joel DeSpain said the comments were not intended to be the focus of the press conference.

“The chief took a specific question about staffing and responded. The press conference was called to address unprecedented violence in the city, not about staffing,” DeSpain said.

District 9 Ald. Paul Skidmore agrees the Police Department should stick to the budget process, but plans to push for more resources in the future.

“The city is dynamic and our needs are shifting and right now we have become a big city with big city problems and we need to address those behavioral problems,” he said.

The Police Department has a $67.8 million operating budget for this year. The department’s budget is the largest of any other city department.

Soglin said he doesn’t see the need for additional officers

“When you have one department which over the last dozen years disproportionately receive more funding then others and when the data does not support providing more money to that department we have to put that into perspective,” he said.