Letter from LWVDC to Madison Mayor Soglin
Dear Mayor Soglin:
The League of Women Voters – Dane County appreciates the work you have done over the years to attempt to provide all Madison citizens with an equal opportunity for a good life. In particular, the League has supported the pioneering Child Care Assistance Program that you initiated in the 1970’s, which provides a unique service with lasting benefits for our children.
As you grapple with the difficult aftermath of Mr. Robinson’s death, we believe that one step should be taken immediately. The City should ask for outside assistance in a broad review of our police policies and procedures, and then involve community members in reviewing proposed changes.
We understand that there are cities that have changed their policies, procedures and training, thereby managing to reduce the number of officer-involved shootings. We do not believe that focusing only on the use of force guidelines will be sufficient; the real issue is providing our officers with strategies that will assist them in avoiding situations where the use of deadly force becomes the only realistic option.
This review should additionally address the disparity in arrest rates for juveniles and adults between whites and blacks. It is remarkable that the disparity in Dane County exceeds the disparities in other parts of Wisconsin and in the nation. The reasons obviously are not primarily due to actions of police, but we need to look to other communities with less disparity to reflect on how our police policies, procedures, and training can be improved.
We believe it would be helpful to our community as a whole to promptly announce the city’s plan for an outside review of police policies, procedures, and training, with opportunity for citizen input and review.
The League realizes that further actions will be needed over a longer period of time to address broader issues, and we look forward to working with the city and other community groups on those efforts.
Ingrid Rothe & Kathleen Fullin, Co-Presidents, League of Women Voters of Dane County