Madison City Council members voted on a civilian oversight committee and equipment funding for the Madison Police Department during Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.
The Council blocked $50,000 in funding for projectile launchers and other “less lethal” police equipment the MPD used against protesters. In addition, they approved the implementation of a civilian review board and an independent auditor.
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Police Chief Victor Wahl wrote in his blog that police used projectile launchers against protesters May 30 and May 31 during the unrest that occurred in downtown Madison. According to the Wisconsin State Journal, police spokesperson Joel DeSpain said the launchers were used in response to police officers being hit by bricks, rocks and bottles.
District 8 Ald. Max Prestigiacomo suggested the amendment that blocked the funding for the launchers and other equipment.
“We don’t need to give more money to the police to prevent violence at the sacrifice of Black and brown bodies,” Prestigiacomo said. “We can invest that money in other means of violence prevention.
The resolution asked for $125,000 of funding in total, with $50,000 being allocated to the Police Intervention Equipment Project and $75,000 for the purchase and installation of a generator at the East District Station.
The City Council approved the funding for the generator only.
“If we’re going to go out there and say we support this movement and we’re listening … this is an example, right here, how we can show as a council of this city that we’re committed to defunding the police and investing in other means of violence prevention,” Prestigiacomo said. “We’re committed to looking at other ways of violence prevention that don’t disproportionately harm Black and brown people in this community.”
In addition to blocking funding for the equipment, the Council passed a resolution with a 16-4 vote to approve a work group to lay out a civilian oversight board and an independent police monitor position overseeing the MPD.
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Alds. Shiva Bidar, Rebecca Kemble and Donna Moreland will serve on the three-member work group meant to implement the board and independent auditor. The work group will identify community organizations to nominate members to the board, examine budget measures to support the board and independent auditor positions, and create a timeline and process for recruitment for members of the board and the auditor.
The MPD Policy Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee recommended civilian review mechanisms after studying the MPD for years, according to the Cap Times.
Co-Chair of the Ad Hoc Committee Keith Findley spoke about the committee to the Cap Times.
“To delay action on this in these times of community tension and pain over bickering over who gets to be on the working committee would be a real disservice to our community,” said Findley.