Nice Letter Chief
In a town meeting type scenario, police bosses are usually told to sit there, shut up and take the abuse heaped on them by the community. This happened in Madison recently following the shooting of yet another unarmed assailant (who is unarmed only as long as you keep control of your gun). The Chief did as his political masters demanded, but fired back the next day:
- As the City has been through a lot over the past 10 days, an uneasy peace has settled in until we await the next seminal decision from the District Attorney’s Office. The tension on the streets is palpable and my officers are doing the best they can to remain pro-active and relational. Not an easy task given the various veiled and stark threats to police officers that have been made through various social media networks and on the streets. I have challenged my officers to stay true to our values, adhere to our training in situational awareness, and to resist the urge to adopt a “bunker” mindset. The women and men of MPD have done more than their share of risk taking for this community and it is high time you did yours!
In the course of a few days (from March 13-last night’s Common Council meeting), I have seen you muster to create a letter to the family of Tony Robinson as well as to hastily convene a public “hearing” for those who want to express their views. While the letter of condolences to the family of Tony Robinson was entirely appropriate (I did the same thing), there was no mention of support—either in that letter or in any corresponding letter which could have been circulated at the same time—acknowledging the exceptional steps taken by women and men of MPD in doing their part to maintain public safety while facilitating robust dissent. Last night, I sat patiently listening to people accusing MPD of everything from being sanctioned murderers to racists. Given the nature of the proceedings, I was left with no recourse to respond to any of these diatribes, falsehoods and shock value missives. One of my responsibilities is to defend those valued employees—sworn and non-sworn—that take pride in providing a premium service to the citizens and guests of our City. People can attack me all they want—I’m old and what service time I have left is not going to be deterred by fringe elements who foist themselves upon me with righteous indignation. But I have a duty to speak up when the good people who work for me have to contend with unchecked, unilateral attacks on them and the legacy of the MPD . . .and I failed them by not being able to go to bat for them under the constraints of the hearing protocols last night. In short, your collective silence is DEAFENING and that is why I chose to write to you today. Don’t think that I haven’t noticed or that my employees haven’t noticed—we have!
It goes on from there. Go read it all.