In an effort to help the Madison community better understand police policies and procedures, officers from the Madison Police Department gave a presentation to the City Council and community on the use of force in the department.
MPD officers offered a variety of live demonstrations to illustrate what use of force looks like and how it is employed in the field.
Sgt. Kimba Tieu, MPD’s use of force coordinator, began the presentation by discussing the disconnect between what people believe they know about use of force and what use of force actually means to officers. This disconnect isn’t “malicious” or filled with “bad intentions,” Tieu said.
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The best way to reduce or eliminate this gap is to work better with the community through policing in partnership with the community, Tieu said.
“It’s not always fair to judge another person unless we’ve walked in their shoes,” Tieu said. “Until we kind of see as they see and understand what they know before we start to say or make judgments on actions, policies, procedures.”
Tieu discussed the officer procedures when they interact with subjects. He said officers use a system of verbal instructions when approaching subjects to achieve cooperation.
Physical alternatives are employed when subjects fail to cooperate with officers after they give verbal commands, Tieu said.
Officer Christopher Masterson demonstrated several of these methods, including pepper spray and a taser, on a practice dummy.
Teiu said since each interaction varies greatly, there’s no set way to handle them.
“It is based on a totality of circumstances,” Teiu said. “That’s why we don’t talk, generally, in absolutes.”
Community outreach programs like Citizen Academy and presentations like these are ways community members can learn how to better interact with police, Teiu said.
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Teiu said media portrayals of the police largely affect their public perception, but meetings like these help the police and community understand each other.
“We have a human side too, and we are you,” Teiu said. “Police are the public and the public are the police. We have to come back to that and have more of these conversations and have more of this dialogue.”