Last June, the University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department (UWPD) announced its Racial Equity Initiative (REI). Since that time we have continued to move this initiative forward and, as promised, would like to provide our community with an update on progress and next steps.
During the Listen phase of the REI, which extended throughout last summer and fall, UWPD leadership met with a number of faculty, staff, and student groups to share details about the initiative, solicit feedback, ask questions and understand concerns. The tone of these conversations ranged from supportive to tense but, in any case, there was immense value in developing a greater understanding of where our community is emotionally when it comes to the issue of policing. This understanding, at least partially, contributed to formal decisions that were made regarding the department’s public usage of thin blue line imagery.
The feedback gleaned from the Listen phase also informed efforts to create a full draft of the Equity Dashboard, a set of accountability metrics that will be updated regularly and publicly accessible on our website. These metrics will shed light on aspects of our operations that are of the greatest relevance and importance to our community, including the extent to which the department’s stated commitment to racial equity is translating to measurable and tangible outcomes.
In the spirit of continuing to ensure the REI and Equity Dashboard are most conducive to establishing a foundation for greater transparency, informed advocacy, and enduring trust, we recently strategically expanded membership on our Police Advisory Council (PAC). Since its inception in 2017, this community advisory group has served as a formal mechanism for feedback across a range of areas, including current events, equipment, departmental policies, etc. Beginning on March 10, 2021, and extending through the early part of the summer, the expanded PAC will work to finalize our Equity Dashboard as well as other details related to the short-and-long-term implementation of the REI. To this end, we are extremely excited to be working with faculty, staff, and student representatives from across our community.
It has been a difficult year for our community. Since the killing of George Floyd last May, policing as a profession has garnered justified scrutiny. We have heard this feedback from many of you in our community. Through the REI, our commitment remains to demonstrate our acknowledgment and understanding of these concerns in a way that extends beyond words to something tangible and indicative of actions that have been taken and/or need to be taken by your police department.
We will continue releasing updates as the work of the REI proceeds forward. In the interim, if there are questions regarding this ongoing initiative, contact Dr. Louis Macias, Executive Director of Recruitment, Diversity, and Inclusion.