Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


City says no to 18-officer plan

The Madison City Council
voted down a proposal Thursday night to add 18 officers to the Madison Police
Department instead of the 30 requested by Mayor Dave Cieslewicz by a 13-7

Chief of Police Noble Wray
began discussion of the proposed amendment, stressing the need for approval of
the full 30 officers accounted for in the budget.

Thirty officers, Wray said,
would raise the current ratio of 1.8 officers per 1000 residents to 1.9, citing
Madison's recent growth as a marker of the need for this increase. Mayor Dave Cieslewicz
also affirmed support for the need for 30 officers, imploring council members to
reject the reduction amendment.

Several alders, however,
voiced concern that Wray's numbers were not based on Madison's specific needs
and instead reflected national averages. Ald. Brian Solomon, Dist. 10, wondered
how the police chief would "balance that ratio with a city with such a crime
record as Madison," adding he felt Madison was very safe and the increase was

Ald. Brenda Konkel, Dist. 2,
said she was unwilling to vote to add more than 18 officers, citing the pending
2009 police staffing report and added "we need to have that study in front of
us to make that decision."

Other alders echoed her sentiments,
suggesting the vague statistics Wray used to determine the need for additional
officers did not provide sufficient information to justify his demand.


However, many alders
supported Cieslewicz and Wray, citing pressure from constituents to increase
the number of officers to 30.

Ald. Judy Compton, Dist. 16,
said her responsibility was "to ensure we offer the basic services to our
residents," and, without adequate staffing, the police force would be left
without the tools to combat crime in Madison.

Ald. Joe Clausius, Dist. 17,
urged others to reject the proposal and said "we need more bodies on the
street. … to keep our city safe," noting residents in his district said they
would be "more than willing to pay a slight, or even a modest, increase in
taxes" to ensure their safety.

Central to the debate was
discussion of the balanced budget and whether the addition of 30 officers would
drain funding for other propositions, especially social service programs.
Solomon said any increases above the proposed 18 would be ignoring crime
prevention in favor of increased arrests.

However, Ald. Lauren Cnare,
Dist. 3, argued "prevention can start with police too — police visibility is a
prevention measure."

Cieslewicz provided final
statements before votes were taken, and he urged alders to reject the
proposition for only 18 additional officers. He said the proposed budget was
not balanced and his budget "was not just about police officers."

"Supporting this amendment,
you're not really supporting anything that hasn't already been addressed in
this budget," Cieslewicz added. "The budget you could vote on right now is a
balanced budget with this issue of public safety."

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