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That snow is a bit intense! We finally have enough snow cover for skiing, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking and I actually saw folks doing all of those things at Door Creek Park late this afternoon. I’m thrilled that folks are getting out and enjoying our great parks in this season.

For those of us on the roads, please heed the following from the streets department regarding tonight’s snow emergency:

The City of Madison has declared a snow emergency. This means alternate side parking restrictions will be in effect in the downtown/isthmus snow emergency zone as well as the rest of the City of Madison. on Wednesday, January 17.

The Streets Division crews along with heavy equipment contractors will begin plowing all city streets this evening. We expect plowing operations to start around 8pm on January 15 and it will take 12 to 14 hours for all streets to be cleared. Streets Division crews will maintain the city salt routes until switching to plowing residential areas. The combined plow force of the Streets Division and heavy equipment contractors will be approximately 150 pieces of equipment.

Madison residents are asked to remove all vehicles and trailers from the street if possible. Fewer obstacles in the road means crews the plowing operations will be safer, faster, and more complete.

While we hope to have the snow plowed from all City of Madison streets by the start of the Tuesday commute, it is probable our crews will still be out plowing at that time. Be sure to give snowplow operators plenty of space as they work to make the roads safe.

In general, everyone is encouraged to make good choices when on the roads. Plan to need extra travel time to get to your destination tonight and Tuesday morning as conditions may be slicks in parts. Drive slow. Brake early. As always, since you are required to shovel your sidewalk, if you don’t feel up to it, let me know and I’ll drive/skate/snowshoe down and help out. Shoveling if you’re not physically up to it can be especially dangerous and I can always lend a hand. I’ll be at a work conference all day tomorrow (Tuesday) so you’ll want to message me tonight if you need a hand.

Funding for 8 Additional Police Officers

The council is considering funding the hiring of 8 additional police officers. There’s a lot to consider here, let’s start with the background info

As many of you know, MPD will be hiring 20 new officers for its force this year. This will replace retiring officers and officers moving on from the force. During the budget process, another alder proposed hiring an additional 15 officers, the funds for half of which would come from a federal grant for the first few years of the officers’ careers. While Madison has been fortunate to receive federal grants for officers in the past, we were not awarded grant money during this funding cycle. I co sponsored and supported a budget amendment which held off funding the additional officers until we knew whether we’d been awarded the grant, and until we had a chance to digest the MPD study which hadn’t yet been released at that time. The study was released a little while ago and does not make specific recommendations regarding staffing. With that info, I feel more confident moving forward.

So that brings us to the present,
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let’s discuss the facts of the proposal at hand

The chief has said that his officers are being run ragged. Such is the relationship of the chief and the council that I cannot just take his word for it, so I reached out to patrol officers to get more ‘on the ground’ information. In those conversations I heard that time off requests are denied and overtime is being mandated. That doesn’t work for me. I ask a lot of our officers and I expect a lot. I cannot reasonably expect a high level of excellence if they are overtired and overstressed.

As an athlete, I know how much of an impact fatigue can have on performance, especially on fast twitch muscles, reaction times, and decision making ability. As you can imagine, all of those things are extremely crucial to our police making the right call in split second situations. It’s not safe for our citizens or our officers to have an overtired police force.

So our officers need to get enough rest and recovery time. To do that we need to add more patrol officers, or reallocate current officers to patrol, or some of each. MPD has a significantly higher percentage of its total force ‘off patrol’ than forces for other similarly sized cities. Madison has hundreds of officers, and simply too few on patrol.

All the same, the way the staffing is set, patrol officers are getting overworked and overtired. That is the way it is right now, and that’s what the city council has to deal with as city leaders. We need some more officers out on patrol. I feel the council is backed into a corner with this decision. We can either leave MPD at potentially dangerous patrol staffing levels while demanding staffing changeups in the department, or we can set the precedent that any department’s leadership can force us to hand over more funding and I don’t think any taxpayer wants to set that precedent.

As you’ve probably noticed, your city council doesn’t shy away from tough decisions. I believe that whichever way each of my colleagues votes on this they will have their well researched and logical reasons.

I can get behind adding the 8 additional officers as they will be allocated to fill in gaps in patrol beats which exist right now. I can get behind hard working police officers getting the days off that they request. I cannot get behind continuing to grow the police department in perpetuity.

For our patrol officers, their health and wellness, their families, and Madison’s citizens who will be safer with a less overtired police force, I intend to vote to support funding the 8 additional officers proposed by my colleague. I take this vote understanding that we need to see changes in how sworn officers are allocated to Madison neighborhood’s various needs, and in how effective we set our officers up to be.
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