A new Madison City Council resolution was introduced Feb. 1 to accept a Department of Justice Grant for the Madison Police Department to hire six new officers in 2023. 

The grant will also be used to help build trust between the MPD and the wider community, start programs to connect with Madison’s youth and legitimize this trust-building effort, MPD Chief Shon Barnes said in an email statement to The Badger Herald. Barnes said the DOJ Cops Hiring Program grant would pay a total of $750,000 towards the officers and their benefits over a 36-month period, and it requires a match from the city.

“[By] deferring the grant until the 2023 budget, our department can strategically work to create a framework for the new officers whose mission will be to help bridge the gap between the police department and our community’s youth population,” Barnes said.

As a part of the grant, the Madison City Council will have to allocate additional funds to MPD each year until 2025, according to the resolution.

Alderperson Juliana Bennett, who represents District 8 on the City Council, said the 2021 Madison City budget allocated money to MPD to hire 14 more police officers. 

“If the Council chooses to accept this grant, they will have to allocate money to those salaries after the grant is gone, and this will force the council to either expand the MPD budget or lay off personnel,” Bennett said. 

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In Aug. 2021, the City of Madison launched the Madison Community Alternative Response Emergency Services, also called the CARES program, which aims to “treat behavioral health emergencies as the medical issues they are, centering patient needs and patient care and linking them to treatment options,” according to a press statement from Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway. 

Bennett says she is an active supporter of CARES and has advocated for these police funds to be rerouted toward mental health and survivor support resources. She is currently working with fellow alders to reallocate these services from MPD.

The resolution passed the Finance Committee Feb. 7 and will be voted on by the Public Safety and Review Committee Feb. 9. Mayor Rhodes-Conway and Alderpersons Syed Abbas, Patrick Heck, Brian Benford, Nasra Wehelie, Regina Vidaver and Lindsay Lemmer are sponsors of the resolution.