Public shows overwhelming support for Ramon Batista as Madison’s next police chief

MADISON, Wis. — Out of four finalists in the running for Madison’s next police chief, the public showed overwhelming support for Ramon Batista at the Police and Fire Commission meeting Wednesday.

Seventeen community members registered to speak during the meeting.

During his interview, Batista said, “We must all recognize that policing in this country is entering a new era. I see this time as an amazing new opportunity to be at the forefront of pro social, positive change for police and the communities they serve.”

Batista was the Mesa, Arizona police chief until his resignation last year. Greg Gelembiuk, the co-founder of Madison’s Community Response Team, said Batista rose to the top of his picks because of his courage, cultural competency and heart.

“Madison residents generally want a humane, kind and progressive city,” Gelembiuk said. “I think Ramon could help bring that much more so than all the other candidates.”

Shadayra Kilfoy-Flores, who was recently selected as the new vice chair for Madison’s first civilian oversight board, agreed, saying, “He has a track record of wanting to work with the community.”

Kilfoy-Flores said after doing extensive research on the candidates and watching their interviews, Batista was a no-brainer.

“It’s not just about what the community wants, it’s also about what the community needs,” Kilfoy-Flores said.

Shon Barnes, who was the Deputy Chief in Salisbury, North Carolina, came in second place and Christopher Davis, the Deputy Chief with Portland Police came in last in the Community Response Team’s opinion, but Batista stood out for them.

Gelembiuk said Batista was “the most trustworthy by far” while Kilfoy-Flores said he was “the most relatable.”

Community members say reducing crime and building trust is the most important thing for the next chief to accomplish.

Madison’s Community Response team has been vocal about wanting the PFC to be more transparent in their hiring process for the next police chief. Many members wrote to the PFC about them not allowing more community interaction with the candidates in the interview process.

The next Police and Fire Commission meeting is December 14 at 5:30 p.m. Further community input will be welcome. Kilfoy-Flores and Gelembiuk both said they hope the PFC will take their top pick into consideration.