‘We don’t want to take any chances’: Madison police have extra staff on hand for Inauguration Day

MADISON, Wis. – Though there are no known threats to the city or its capitol building, Madison Police Chief Vic Wahl said the department will have extra staff available to work on Inauguration Day Wednesday “out of an abundance of caution.”

“Obviously, tomorrow is an important day of national significance,” Wahl said. “With what we’ve seen the last couple of weeks, we don’t want to take any chances.”

That doesn’t mean people will necessarily see more Madison police officers near the Capitol.

“It will hopefully look like business as usual,” Wahl said. “Our resources will sort of be out of sight and out of mind, but if something unexpected happens, we’ll have the capacity to respond.”

Police will keep monitoring the situation, but as of Tuesday, there was nothing significant on the radar.

“On Sunday, there was that national posting, that national call to arms for all the capitols, but that was unique to Sunday,” Wahl said. “That was the closest thing to anything specific to Madison we’ve seen.”

On Sunday, city, state and national authorities prepared for possible protests and potential violence. Boarded windows and concrete barriers remain at the Capitol. Officers and armored vehicles surrounded the area Sunday, but all stayed quiet.

“What we saw at the U.S. Capitol was more than anybody would’ve expected or any of us should expect to go through,” Wahl said. “Having a quiet weekend where we didn’t see that sort of thing escalate or continue here was something good for all of us.”

Still, Wahl said it’s important to be ready just in case.

“I think as we’ve seen over the past ten months here, it’s hard to predict what’s going to happen,” Wahl said. “If people show up to express themselves, like we always do, we’ll do our best to facilitate first amendment expression and have a safe environment. Obviously, we’re not going to allow violence or property damage, or things like that.”

News 3 Now has a request to the Wisconsin Department of Administration for more information on the plans of Capitol Police.

Last week, Gov. Tony Evers authorized the Wisconsin National Guard to support the Capitol Police ahead of warnings from the FBI of potential threats to all state capitols. A National Guard spokesperson said their assistance has not been requested for Wednesday. Instead, their mission’s focus is in Washington, D.C.

A spokesperson for the Dane County Sheriff’s Office said they have no special plans for Wednesday at this point.