The City of Madison Police Civilian Oversight Board appointed John Tate II as Madison’s first Independent Police Monitor, according to a press release from the City of Madison.
Tate formerly served as chairperson for the Wisconsin Parole Commission, but resigned after Gov. Tony Evers urged him to reconsider granting parole to a man convicted of murder in June.
Tate authorized the parole of Douglas Balsewicz, who violently killed his estranged wife, less than 25 years into his 80-year sentence, Gov. Evers’ letter to Tate said. Tate rescinded the parole and later resigned, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Tate will begin his new position in December, pending approval by the Common Council.
The Independent Police Monitor is in charge of reviewing police actions and ensuring that they comply with internal procedures, according to the press release.
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The City of Madison Police Civilian Oversight Board was created in 2020 and has the power to appoint the Independent Police Monitor, assess the police and recommend disciplinary actions following the use of force.
There are examples of independent monitors that are appointed but given no powers, which essentially only serve as a way for the region to say that they have a monitor, University of Wisconsin expert on policing and use of force Ion Meyn said. In the case of this position, there are some real powers given to the Independent Police Monitor.
“The powers provided by the ordinance that are given to [the Independent Police Monitor] provide the potential for kind of a robust intervention,” Meyn said.
Tate will have access to unfettered access to police records, subpoena powers to question witnesses and will be able to appoint counsel for individuals who he believes are aggrieved by police activity, Meyn said.
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If these powers are used to their fullest extent, Meyn believes the new position could be very powerful.
Madison Police Chief Shon Barnes welcomed Tate and expressed his hopes of a positive relationship in an email statement to The Badger Herald.
“The Madison Police Department welcomes Mr. Tate to this wonderful community as the inaugural Independent Police Monitor,” Barnes said in the statement. “We look forward to a productive, collaborative, and transparent relationship with Mr. Tate and his staff.”