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My day last Tuesday started out in Washington, D.C. I headed to the airport to return to Madison, having attended ceremonies honoring law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty during National Police Week.

I had stood with officers from around the world and with families who have lost loved ones. The names of 394 officers (143 from 2016, and 251 from years past who had been overlooked) were read aloud and added to the almost 21,000 names already on a memorial wall.

As I waited for my flight, I saw a story about a Montana deputy who had been shot and killed on a routine traffic stop that day. He was the 17th officer shot so far this year and the third in the last week.

I got back into Madison and went home to rest because I had to work that night. I had asked for the night off months ago, but staffing was too short to allow it. When I started work that night, we were briefed on several incidents:

  • At least one person shot at someone on the West Side, resulting in one person being grazed by a bullet fragment or glass from a car window.
  • A student threatened to “shoot up” a school, which was investigated.
  • Two people were shooting at two others, which resulted in one male being shot, on the North Side at a PDQ convenience store during early evening hours.
  • Someone committed an armed bank robbery.
  • Two individuals in our area had made threats to kill police officers.

Near the end of the briefing, an alert tone sounded announcing an armed robbery on the West Side (one of three armed robberies that night). Then our lieutenant let us know we were two officers below our minimum staffing for the shift, and he would be trying to fill the vacant beats.

As I got ready to go out on patrol, I was told that our Madison City Council voted 19-1 to adopt recommendations to address what it sees as shortcomings with our department. The action was an interim step to recommendations coming from a $400,000 study of the department. Three committees have been examining our department.

One of the recommendations is to include language in our policy on the use of force. The language was adopted from the New York Police Department, emphasizing an officer’s duty to protect human life. Beyond the fact that such language already exists in our policies, I wasn’t aware that anyone on my department was confused about our duty. The officers rushing to those calls involving weapons seemed certain about their duty.

Anyway, that was my Tuesday. Hope yours was good.

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Frei is president of the Madison Professional Police Officers Association: