This past Saturday was the fourth consecutive home football game of the season. While we Badgers love our sports, what most don’t know or see is the amount of work and resources that UWPD and others dedicate to ensuring that 80,000 fans who descend upon Camp Randall Stadium have a safe and fun game-day experience. The UWPD team diligently plans and prepares several days before each home football game and is hard at work hours before kickoff to establish traffic posts, conduct safety sweeps, brief the throngs of supporting officers from outside agencies, set up the arrest processing center, and much more. Here at the UWPD, game days require all hands on deck and working four consecutive weekends is demanding. When I awoke this past Saturday morning, it felt a bit like the movie “Groundhog Day,” in which Bill Murray lives the same day over and over again.
It is, for this reason, I posted a tweet and accompanying photo of a group of UWPD officers, myself included, standing atop Bascom Hill wearing sunglasses with our arms crossed. The tweet’s message read, “It’s Saturday. And you know what that means @UWMadisonPolice. Let’s do this! #GameDay…again.” The tweet was intended to be fun, to acknowledge the final leg in a long stretch of Saturday games, and generally motivate my UWPD team and all those who come together on game day. The photo included in the tweet is a screenshot excerpted from UWPD’s recruitment video in which we humorously use the pose to actually debunk the stereotyped image of police as hyper-serious and unapproachable. The tone of the full video from which the photo was taken is light, but also emphasizes the seriousness of the work we do to keep every member of our community safe. We emphasize our commitments to respect, empathy and service, among other things. Despite that, shortly after posting the tweet it became clear to me how some could (and, in fact, did) receive the tweet negatively. In a subsequent tweet on Saturday afternoon, I apologized and explained it was not my intention to make anyone feel uncomfortable. I also provided a link to the full recruitment video from which the photo was derived in order to place it in the proper context.
Despite my intentions, I acknowledge and own the impact of my tweets on Saturday afternoon on some members of our community and reiterate my apology. As someone who has spent their entire career in this profession, I’m all too familiar with the strained trust communities of color, in particular, have when it comes to police. Along with the rest of the UWPD, I remain committed to continuing to build genuine and enduring trust across the community we serve.
In that spirit, I want to open the door for continued conversations that promote trust among all members of our community, including those who were negatively impacted by my tweets Saturday afternoon. It is clear that we have more work to do to close existing trust gaps as a department and a community. For any relationship to succeed requires a willingness to engage, to listen, and to move forward together. Whether we meet here at the PD, at a coffee shop or at a student group meeting, I want to hear your concerns and use them as a springboard for continued improvement. I also want you to have the opportunity to ask questions and learn firsthand about the philosophies that inform the incredible work done every day by the men and women of your UWPD.
If this is of interest, and I sincerely hope it is, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or Dr. Louis Macias, UWPD’s Executive Director of Recruitment, Diversity and Inclusion, at email@example.com.