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The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Public Safety Review committee meeting talks body cameras and fire response

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At a Public Safety Review committee meeting Tuesday, representatives from Madison Police and Fire Departments further discussed a city alder’s police body camera proposal and reviewed recent updates on the Apollo Way fire incident.

Body Camera Proposal

Ald. Scott Resnick, District 8, a mayoral candidate, introduced the body camera proposal which is backed by several Madison alders.


Body cameras could help collect evidence, and prove officers innocent in excessive force complaints, MPD spokesperson Joel DeSpain said.

These cameras are still being debated, because of the cost and violation of privacy issues. The cameras have been assigned for a work study group with a final deliberation date set for early December.

“We are not philosophically opposed to the transparency that cameras can provide. In fact, if you look at those issues that tend to be the most contentious or serve as the basis of criminal complaints against police officers and the like, we see that we have every traffic stop subject to video monitoring,” DeSpain said.

Many high liability situations are already taped for evidence purposes through the use of dash cameras or fixed cameras around the city, he said.

On the public concern of the cost of the cameras, DeSpain said they could amount to more than might meet the eye.

“The question that I would raise is that if cost is all the community is mainly looking at, that is the proverbial tip of the iceberg,” he said. “The huge costs go to the storage and retention and retrieval systems.”

He said decisions regarding how long certain data is stored, number of cameras to invest in, how to distribute them and when they can be used need further discussion.

“In the post-Ferguson world, this has obviously become a banner public policy discussion,” DeSpain said.

Apollo Way Fire Updates

The cause of the Apollo Way fire still remains under investigation while damages are taken care of.
Madison Fire Department

Division Chief Lance Langer of MFD also addressed recent updates about an ongoing investigation into a large fire that occurred about a month ago near Apollo Way. Langer said the cause of the fire remains under investigation, and estimates of the damages are recorded at about $10 million.

The fire could be seen from the highway near Apollo Way and prompted 75 phone calls in thirty minutes, he said. A total of 115 were taken by the 911 dispatch center, freezing its phone system. A resolution to this issue is still being dealt with by officials, he said.

He said the circumstances of this particular fire is not something they are typically prepared for.

At least they were able to control the fire, Langer said.

“We would basically need Lake Michigan to be dropped on it at this point for us to really make an impact,” Langer said.

In the investigation, a federal agency called the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms brought in 26 agents who conducted 105 interviews in five days. If MFD had conducted the investigation on its own, Langer said it would have taken personnel five to six months.

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