The Madison Common Council voted to add three police officers to the Madison Police Department over adding a ninth ambulance Tuesday.

The first night of the 2020 operating budget discussion focused on adding the city’s ninth ambulance and a proposed six new patrol officers.

Alders decided to add three officers with a vote of 12-8 after MPD decided to move 12 proactive officers from community outreach and engagement back to patrol, according to reporting from The Cap Times. 

Ald. Zachary Henak said the city should hire at least six new officers.

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“I think it’s essential to move those 12 officers over,” Henak said. “We need more officers. We should’ve hired 10-12 more.”

Vic Wahl, police chief at MPD, told Channel 300 data shows MPD is still 20 officers away from the ideal amount.

The three officers will start police training in May 2020 and cost the city more than $250,000 a year, according to reporting from The Cap Times.

During a public hearing for the operating budget Tuesday night Madison firefighters asked the council to add a ninth ambulance to the current fleet, including Mahlon Mitchell, president of Fire Fighters Local 311.

“We’re asking you to adequately staff us so we can adequately serve you,” Mitchell said during the hearing.

The national standard for emergency ambulance arrival time is eight minutes. Steven Davis, Madison’s fire chief, said in a blog post. Madison’s ambulances can get to a location in nine minutes 90% of the time, unless it’s in Fire Station 14’s territory located in southeast Madison, Davis said.

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A fire station opened in the far southeast neighborhood near the end of 2018. While it does have EMTs, it does not have an ambulance, so it relies on other fire station’s dispatch for one. An ambulance can be there in under nine minutes about 50% of the time, Davis wrote. More often it can take 15-20 minutes.

“The council hasn’t made staffing the ambulance a priority,” Henak said.

With the southeast neighborhood relying on other stations, it can create a “domino effect,” Wahl said. According to the Madison Fire Department, Madison ran out of ambulances seven times between Sept. 15 and Oct. 30.

It’s been 10 years since Madison added a new ambulance, Henak said. The council didn’t put any funding towards the addition of one, instead choosing to fund the new police officers.