In their continued efforts to foster transparency with the community, the University of Wisconsin Police Department has published a list of all the current equipment the department owns and intends to acquire.
In the past, UWPD would have honored any individual’s request on departmental equipment, UWPD spokesperson Marc Lovicott said. This is the first time, however, that a webpage is available with all of the information.
“We pride ourselves in transparency, and in letting folks know what we do and how we do it, and I believe this [webpage] is an extension of that,” Lovicott said.
The webpage came as a result of a resolution Associated Students of Madison passed Sept. 7. The resolution had concerns of the physiological ramifications of having a militarized police force on campus, according to a UWPD response.
Lovicott said he understands that the visual of a militarized police department can be a concern for a certain demographic.
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“Everybody has their own way of interpreting things and everyone sees things different,” Lovicott said. “You may be uncomfortable seeing an individual carrying a fireman whether it’s an officer or a citizen. I can understand how looking like a militiarized police department may be intimidating to some.”
Under President Barack Obama’s Executive Order 13688, local law enforcement agencies, such as UWPD, have the ability to acquire, or purchase military weapons through federal funds. At the moment, UWPD does not own any military weapons nor does it intend to purchase or acquire the equipment anytime soon.
If the department were interested in obtaining such type of equipment, however, Lovicott said they will first reach out to the community to gain their input.
“People feel differently on these type of matters and that’s on us to be transparent and explain why we have these things,” Lovicott said. “I think this [list] will give people a better understanding.”
The list will be continually updated as the department gains new equipment. UWPD will seek community input prior to making any purchases or updates.