The Madison Public Safety Review Committee met Wednesday to discuss police involvement in Madison public schools and the possible implementation of the use of body cameras in the Madison Police Department.

Police Commander Brian Ackeret and Lieutenant Erik Fuhremann began the meeting with a presentation on the MPD’s Community Outreach and Resource Education Program, which aims to build connections between youth and police enforcement in the Madison area.

According to MPD’s website, the program focuses on the role and limitations of police officers in dealing with racial disparities reflected in arrests, and expanding programs to divert youth from criminal activities.

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Former MPD captain Kristen Roman’s blog on the MPD website said the program is partnering with local organizations to build trust and improve relationships within the community.

Police officers involved with CORE host after school programs at Madison middle schools such Hamilton, Wright, O’Keefe and Wingra as part of their efforts, according to MPD’s website. Ald. Barbara Harrington-McKinney, District 1, said this program is helping connect the public and officers.

“Seeing and humanizing the police is critical when reaching out to Madison youth,” Harrington-McKinney said.

After discussing CORE, the committee debated, at length, the possibility of MPD using body cameras in the near future.

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Some members, like Ald. Paul Skidmore, District 9, stringently advocated the use of body cameras, while others, such as chairwoman Debra Julian, remained doubtful about the reality of enforcing their use.

“Body cameras are amoral,” Skidmore said. “They just show what happens.”

Fuhremann said officers in this day and age generally agree that videos are needed to record and back-up what happens in the field. 

Frustration surfaced in the group regarding the extended period of time body cameras have been debated by this committee and the lack of real action on the topic.

The issue was tabled indefinably and is pending further community opinions.