Mike Koval Had Pushed Back Against Far Left, Anti-Cop City Leaders

The residents of the city of Madison have lost their public safety goalie. He was hardly a hardened, broken windows, law-and-order bulwark, but Police Chief Mike Koval repeatedly pushed back against a city council and two mayors who believed ‘restorative justice,’ alone can keep Madison a bucolic utopia.

Rarely arm-in-arm with former Mayor Paul Soglin, the gulf between Koval’s public safety philosophy and that of new Madison Mayor Satya Rhodes-Conway was far greater.

Koval announced his retirement this weekend.

Effective immediately.

Here’s a snippet from his blog:

To our community partners, thank you for helping us to work collaboratively for people who have been left behind, fallen between the cracks, are hurting, addicted, or in need of someone’s intervention for a variety of reasons.  To constituents who have lent their support and encouragement to the body of good works that our police are performing on a daily basis–I am eternally grateful; you will never know how important your efforts have meant to the morale of our Department.  To the “haters,” thanks to you as well—for through your unrelenting, unforgiving, desire to make the police the brunt of all of your scorn—I drew strength from your pervasive and persistent bullying.  I have made a career of fighting for the underdog and I was able to hang on much longer than I had originally planned (or that you had hoped) :)! 

To my MPD Family, in spite of all the odds–the trials–the tribulations–stay strong.  You are a legacy of guardians who care and care deeply about the “BPR’s” (“best possible resolutions”) in the outcomes of those who are manifesting desperate acts under desperate circumstances. Our civilian workforce is a boon of support to helping us fulfill our mission and takes pride in customer focused services; you share our successes as well as the trauma that we cops experience.  All of you are working under exceedingly challenging conditions—always being asked to do more with less and do it as quickly as possible. But you all need to be mindful of the necessity to take care of yourself as well as each other. Be attentive guardians to one another.  Look for help when you need it.  Talk and express your feelings–don’t store them up.  Seek people/resources who can provide support and professional assistance. 

Madison is a booming city. Thanks to being the home to the state’s premier research university, seat of the ever-sprawling state government, and being adjacent to the sprawling Epic campus, new businesses and new housing are being built at a rapid pace.

But many residents also fear the laissez-faire attitude toward criminal justice on its streets and in its schools could put this high quality of life and relative prosperity at risk. The warning signs are there. More frequent shootings. All-out brawls in some schools. Growing unrest and anti-cop protests and political posturing whenever law enforcement uses force.

Koval was an even-handed, calm authority figure who pushed back against the hyper PC crowd. Now that he’s gone, who will replace him?

Koval himself is worried.

My biggest fear in leaving my MPD Family as Chief?  Who will protect the guardians when they are hurting, when they are tried in the court(s) of public opinion/Facebook/and the media without fundamental fairness and respect for due process?  Who will check in on them when they are hurt or injured (emotionally or physically)?  Who will lead the cheers for the birth of a child, a wedding, a retirement? And who will be there for them to grieve the loss of someone special? Who will be unafraid to speak up on their behalf?

To the community, MPD is trying, with a sense of urgency and purpose, to earn your trust and to work cooperatively in addressing the issues of our day.  I am sorry if I said or did anything which caused you to question these motives or the authentic desires of MPD to be relational partners in moving forward.  Blame me for whatever missteps or disappointments you may have but please give this Department and its dedicated employees the benefit of the doubt, and let them impress you with their selfless desire to better serve you! Believe it or not, once you venture outside of this City, MPD is well-respected nationally and is a model in a host of different domains including community policing and engagement, mental illness response, recruiting a diverse workforce, and restorative justice initiatives. Ask PERF.  Ask DOJ.  Ask OIR. . . 

By the time you read this blog, the MPD Family will have had access to an internal video from me. While I expressed my deepest gratitude for their collective efforts, I also acknowledged my failure to get more staffing.  I have tried—using staffing studies, workload analysis, galvanizing grass roots campaigns (it worked for getting Midtown operational but not for getting enough cops), tried educating Council(s)/Mayor’s, and appealed to the media to focus a light on the issue.  But I didn’t get it done; I could not get the staffing levels we need to maintain our service levels.  We need 31 cops; I felt compelled to divert 12 positions away from other important areas in order to get our Patrol deficit down to “19” in 2020.  But this is not sustainable, folks.  The next chapter will have to examine reducing services and making more calls go to a “self-reporting” option since we don’t have enough cops to send to everything. We are now averaging about 10% of our time daily on “priority calls only.”  Property damage crashes, noise complaints, and other quality-of-life incidents will have to be among the service areas discussed as items for consideration in the future. . .

On Monday, Assistant Chief Vic Wahl will be the interim Chief of Police for MPD. Then the circus, we mean process, to find a permanent replacement begins.

It’s not going to be pretty. We’ll be following our friend, David Blaska, as this story continues to develop. A long-time Madison conservative and recent candidate for School Board, he’s sure to keep a close eye on the process.

And through him, so will we. For the safety and security of Wisconsin’s second largest city is certainly a statewide concern.

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