UW-Madison police to add new position for Langdon Street area to improve student safety

The University of Wisconsin-Madison police department announced that it is adding a new officer position to cover the Langdon Street area plus communities “bordered by Lake Mendota, Lake Street, Gorham Street, and Wisconsin Ave.”

UW police chief Kristen Roman said she is doing her best to make sure that the new position with her department coincides with the Madison Police Department’s removal of its Langdon Street officer liaison.

Roman said she has been trying to get this position up and running for a while and did not create the position in relation to the news of Madison police officer Damion Figueroa’s position being removed due to budget cuts.

According to an online post, “With MPD’s recent announcement of the intended removal of their Langdon St. Neighborhood Officer, our efforts have now taken on the potential for even greater impact than we’d initially envisioned. And MPD’s stated end date of February 2020 has certainly accelerated our timeline for development and implementation of this proposed position.”

UW Madison student Brooke Wilczewski said when she heard the Madison police department was removing its Langdon Street officer position, she was “scared. I felt disrespected. I felt voiceless. I felt as though myself, my vote, and my own situation didn’t matter to the city of Madison.”

Wilczewski said the area makes students feel unsafe with the recent crimes that have happened. She said Figueroa built such a strong rapport with students that he would be impossible to replace. She said UWPD’s decision to try to fill the void is “a good step in the right direction. However, because we are on city territory, the city police officers and university police officers function in completely different ways.”

Madison police will still be in charge of handling criminal investigations in this area. Roman said the UW position is aimed at a focus on safety and resources for students.

“One of the benefits, for sure, that this position will offer is that link,” Romans said. “A more solid and consistent direct link for those students in these areas to campus resources.”

Wilczewski says it’s more than just about having a replacement.

“Becuase of the established relationship that Figueroa has so, so, so made it his goal to establish with every single student and resident in the area that he covers, it’s going to be a different dynamic,” Wilczewski said.

Roman said she understands the students’ concerns with not having their trusted neighborhood officer around, but hopes to continue to work with Madison police to fill the gap as much as possible.

“We all need each other in order to keep our communities safe,” Roman said.

“I appreciate that step in the right direction,” Wilczewski said. “But I think there needs to be more conversations had.”

Roman added the responsibilities and assignments for the new position are still being worked out.

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