Madison Mayor Paul Soglin and several city leaders stood in solidarity with both police officers and victims of police shootings across the country Friday in response to Thursday’s shooting in Dallas that killed five policemen and injured seven others.
Soglin framed the attack as one directed not only at the Dallas Police Department, but at police officers across the country.
“The officers in Dallas were protecting our rights, not just the rights of the people of Dallas, [but] our rights,” he said.
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Soglin noted that counseling resources for police and other city employees have been put to good use in light of the worst attack on U.S. police officers since Sept. 11, 2001. Though Madison Police Department Chief Mike Koval said he did not have an exact number of how many of his officers have used such resources.
Koval said he applauded the show of solidarity in Madison and while other police departments enacted policy changes, MPD would continue operating as usual.
Koval noted some police departments have made policy changes, such as force-wide two-person squads, these new policies would do little to keep officers safe. He said given the area MPD must cover, combining solo squads into teams of two would only serve to reduce quality of service and make for consolidated targets for possible shooters.
Such tragedies, be they officer-involved shootings or mass shootings, Soglin said, could strike any city at any time and only the vigilance and day-to-day efforts of communities would be able to curb them.
Soglin said the city would continue working to foster discussion with all members of the community on what are the best police practices as well as working with the family of officers who rightly worry for their safety.
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While some may characterize the events in Dallas as a tipping point of divisiveness within the country, Koval said he sees the tragedy as an opportunity for bipartisan healing and solidarity.
“It’s issues like this that create a greater coalition of appreciation for those who are hurt or suffering, whether physically or mentally,” Koval said.
The tragedy in Dallas struck particularly close to home for him and those who work in law enforcement, Soglin said.
“Physically, Dallas is 1,000 miles away, but today it’s right next door,” Soglin said.
Soglin and Koval both also expressed grief over the officer-involved shootings of Black men in Minnesota and Louisiana, which reportedly served as a motive for the Dallas shooter. Soglin again emphasizedthat such incidents can happen anywhere, including Madison.
He noted specifically the officer-involved shooting of 19-year-old Tony Robinson in March 2015, whose death also a sparked nation-wide response.
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Ald. Sheri Carter, District 14, said at the news conference, however, that it is tragedies like these that have the power to bring communities together. She encouraged the people of Madison to rally together in prayer for the victims and their families.
“We are at a decisive window,” she said, “where we’re not just saying black lives matter, but we’re saying all lives matter.”