VIDEO REPORT: Police Consider Riding Metro Buses

By: Chris Woodard Email
By: Chris Woodard Email

POSTED: Wednesday, March 28, 2012 --- 5:30 p.m.

A plan to cut down on crime in Southwest Madison could be starting with police officers riding the bus.

The city is making a big effort to visibly get officers out there.

The focus is on gangs, disturbances and the kinds of quality of life type crime that can drive anyone nuts. It's been a particular concern on the Southwest side.

Police Chief Noble Wray says, "In meeting with the residents out there, we agree we need to, along with the district alders, need to do something very specific and direct."

The plan is the Southwest Initiative.

The city has approved 30-thousand dollars that will be spent to focus on quality of life type crimes and making officers more visible.

Wray says, "We're going to be dealing with youth violence, gang violence, anything of that nature. We're going to target being very visible in some of the neighborhoods out there."

One part of the plan is an idea to have officers start riding on a few city buses during after school hours.

On Friday, police report an incident where a 17-year-old girl who was riding the bus walked to the front and hit the driver in the head. It's the type of incident they're hoping to avoid.

According to Madison Metro statistics the biggest increase in problems is in disruptive behavior and vulgar language

Madison Metro spokesman Mick Rusch says, "We think having a uniformed officer on the bus will cut those incidents way down."

Police say they're the type of incidents that can spread into neighborhoods.

Wray says, "We're seeing a lot of disturbances, some gang related, a lot just youth related, of riding on the metro bus."

When police began working the South transfer point calls for service there went way down. But over the last 3 years those police calls appear to have shifted to the West transfer point where they've almost tripled. There were 175 last year.

Rusch says, "We want people to Know we take it very seriously and that's why we've been working with the police."

The proposal to have officers ride buses still needs approval from the city council.

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