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Madison police

Madison police at the scene of an officer-involved shooting near the intersection of North Seventh and Upham Streets on Sept. 1, 2018. An independent monitor should act as a watchdog and oversee Madison police, a city committee said Thursday. 

An independent monitor should act as a watchdog and oversee Madison police, a city committee said Thursday.

The move by the Madison Police Department Policy & Procedure Review Ad Hoc Committee to recommend the creation of an independent police auditor was based on one of 146 recommendations by a consulting group in a 243-page review of the Madison Police Department released in December 2017.

The OIR Group recommendations came from a review of the department prompted in part by national concern over police use of force in black communities and the 2015 fatal shooting of 19-year-old Tony Robinson, who was black, by a Madison police officer.

Thursday’s recommendation, along with any others from the ad hoc committee, must be approved by the City Council.

The OIR Group had suggested creating an independent auditor’s office that would report to a civilian police oversight body in order to improve monitoring of the Police Department.

Committee members didn’t consider the creation of a civilian oversight board Thursday, but they unanimously approved the recommendation to create an auditor’s office.

If approved, the auditor would ensure that police are complying with department procedures and policies and would monitor internal investigations of use-of-force incidents and police personnel.

The auditor also would have the ability to appoint outside investigators to look into complaints against department leadership, conduct its own investigation of police misconduct and make policy recommendations, among other roles.

The proposal will eventually be part of a package of police reform recommendations the ad hoc committee sends to the City Council for consideration. Those recommendations, based on the OIR report and other input from community members — should be ready for the council in one to three months, said committee co-chairman Keith Findley.

The Police Department said last year in its response to the OIR report that while it doesn’t have a stance on the independent monitor and civilian oversight board suggestion, the department already is open and transparent.

“While always working to improve, the department is confident in the professionalism of its employees, in its progressive philosophy and in the integrity of its internal processes,” it said.

The city attorney’s office said last year in its response to the OIR report that it was open to the recommendation for an independent police auditor, but it would need to analyze a specific proposal.

“The City Attorney believes that there may be a lot to gain in terms of public trust in the MPD if a truly independent and professional auditor could provide some outside review of incidents,” the office said.

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