Safety Initiative Proposed For Downtown Madison

The Madison Police Department said it plans to use wireless, WiFi surveillance cameras and increased patrols to keep the city’s downtown area safer.

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It is part of a multi-pronged $100,000 initiative unveiled Tuesday afternoon.

Officials said the downtown safety initiative is a direct response to last summer’s string of muggings and crimes at bar time.

“As things warm up we tend to get more activity. Obviously people are out on the street, (which) creates more potential for trouble and we want to make sure we’re out in front of it so we don’t have another reoccurrence of that this summer,” said Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz.

Police Chief Noble Wray said he plans to have six more officers patrolling in the Isthmus area around midnight starting this spring.

“Our goal is to have a more visible presence,” Wray said.

In addition, Wray said he will put more officers on horses and bikes.

Madison police said they will also upgrade their surveillance arsenal with the purchase of two new video cameras. Those cameras will be deployed in areas where data show crime patterns are developing, WISC-TV reported.

Officials said that officers will be able to monitor the images lives on the screens of laptop computers in their squad cars.

“The tool that we want to use with this is that an officer would be able to monitor real-time, and we would be able to react and respond to what we are seeing. So we’re not looking at any kind of thing where we’re going to do this blanket coverage,” said Capt. Mary Schauf, central district leader with the Madison Police Department.

The safety initiative also includes greater partnering between police and the community and clamping down on alcohol abuse.

The mayor and police chief said that having an entertainment district where people feel safe is key to the city’s future.

“We do have and continue to have one of the safest downtowns any place in America,” Cieslewicz said. “But we need to make sure that that continues to be vibrant and healthy and safe for everyone, and I think this plan will go a long ways towards doing that.”

The new plan still needs City Council approval, WISC-TV reported. If approved, it is expected to be up and running by March or April.