The University of Wisconsin Police Department will add an officer position on Langdon St. and the surrounding downtown area to replace the recently removed Madison Police Department officer position, UWPD announced Tuesday.
According to a statement by UWPD chief Kristen Roman, the Downtown Liason Officer will serve the area between Lake Mendota, Lake Street, Gorham Street and Wisconsin Ave — an area heavily populated by UW students. MPD recently announced their planned removal of Langdon St. officer Damien Figueroa, and Roman’s statement said UWPD hopes their new position will coincide with Figueroa’s departure in February.
“While the primary jurisdiction and call-for-service response for these areas will remain with the City of Madison, the UWPD Downtown Liaison Officer will have the ability to exercise specific enforcement authority as appropriate,” Roman said. “[The position] will primarily focus efforts on building relationships, providing advocacy and serving as an additional resource dedicated to promoting safety in our off campus community.”
Director of Communications for UWPD Marc Lovicott said UWPD’s been working closely with MPD and the City of Madison to expand their off-campus influence. Once selected, they plan to cross-train their downtown officer with Figueroa in order to provide the same services. They’ve also been working with the Mayor’s office to allow UWPD officers more powers off campus, since they can only enforce state laws and statutes off campus.
These state-level statues include underage drinking and speeding, Lovicott said. He said through their collaborative efforts with the City of Madison, they can now also write subsidy ordinance citations.
“We’re hopeful we will be able to provide the same level of services as our partners at MPD,” Lovicott said.
Roman said the baseline goal of the new position is keeping students safe, whether they’re on campus or off campus.
Roman said in the coming months, UWPD will contact student organizations and other campus stakeholders to develop the position.
“We know our work is not — and will never be — done,” Roman said. “We are committed to breaking down barriers, focusing on engagement and inclusion, and creating and strengthening relationships with stakeholders — regardless of campus borders and boundaries.”