The Madison Police Department will be holding public meetings in April to get community input on their five-to-seven-year strategic plan.

MPD is developing the plan to figure out what the community wants from the police department and where their priorities should lie, MPD Captain of Community Involvement Matt Tye said.

Tye said this strategic plan is timely because many have questioned the role of the police and where their priorities should lie. For example, there has been debate about MPD’s mental health policies, how they deal with different types of crime and substance use disorders, Tye said.

“As we look at all of those competing priorities, that’s where we want community involvement,” Tye said.

MPD has faced criticism for several incidents over the past years, including the accidental shooting of one MPD officer by another on State Street, the shooting and arrest of an unarmed Black man and the assault of a 17-year-old Black teen who was having a mental health episode.

Freedom Inc, a social justice group, called for the abolition of the MPD after the accidental shooting, saying in a press release that MPD intentionally implied that a Black man had shot the officer.

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The police serve as occupying forces in Black communities, serving the interests of the people in power, Freedom Inc Co-Director M. Adams said in a Wisconsin Law Review article. To be free, Black communities should have complete control over their police, Adams said.

MPD has recruited Matrix Consulting Group to help them with developing their strategic plan.

MPD has been long overdue for a strategic plan — the last time they had one was in 2007, Tye said. MPD conducts budget evaluations every year but there is no outside entity like consultants involved, Tye said.

MPD has solicited community input through surveys and now they are holding these focus group meetings to hear from the community, Tye said.

These meetings will be run by Matrix Consulting Group, Tye said. MPD representatives will be present, but only to hear from the community— not to run the meeting, Tye said.

“This phase is really just the consultants talking with the community about priorities going forward,” Tye said.

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Tye said University of Wisconsin students should also attend the focus group meetings, as MPD decisions will affect the downtown areas of Madison.

The City of Madison website provides a list of the dates and times of the meetings, the first occurring on April 4, 6:30-8pm. Anyone who wants to attend the meetings can register here.