Madison PFC shares Q&A segments of four police chief finalists

Madison Chief of Police finalists (from left): Shon Barnes; Ramon Batista, Jr.; Christopher...
Madison Chief of Police finalists (from left): Shon Barnes; Ramon Batista, Jr.; Christopher Davis; Larry Scirotto.(Madison Police Dept.)
Published: Dec. 9, 2020 at 10:14 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Each of the four finalists for the next Madison police chief shared their thoughts on why they should be the next top cop in pre-taped interviews released by the Madison Police and Fire Commission (PFC) Wednesday.

PFC member Jacquelyn Boggess asked each finalist the same six questions virtually. Boggess said community input contributed to the entire search process as well as the questions asked.

Finalists Shon Barnes, Ramon Batista, Christopher Davis and Larry Scirotto all put an emphasis on the importance of building relationships and engaging with the community they serve. When asked about the police departments role in federal immigration enforcement, they all shared the same view that local law enforcement should not be involved.

Finalists were also questioned about fear of police in the communities they work in, what strategies they would use to help heal the harms that cause some of the fears and their perspective on police engagement with youth.

“It starts in the way we socialize our police officers. I think it is very important for us to help our new police officers and our currently serving police officers to realize we all have bias as human beings and to train them in how those biases can show up if you are not being mindful about it in our work,” Davis, the deputy chief for the Portland Police Bureau, said.

“If our communities don’t have a say in how they are policed, it will most likely result in the distrust that we have for our officers motives, and we have an obligation to engage with our communities,” Scirotto, a retired assistant chief of the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, said.

Boggess detailed the PFC used a short community survey to ask what the focus of the next chief should be in the next 2-3 years. She said, at 57 percent, the top response was to reduce crime.

All finalists also shared they believe more partnerships with the community and healthcare providers are needed when it comes to responding to mental health calls.

“I think that the future is in continuation and a strengthening of these co-responder models. I don’t believe that police are the first line of response in issues that regard homelessness, drug addiction, or mental illness,” Batista, former Mesa, Arizona police chief, said.

Barnes, the current director of training and professional development for the Civilian Office of Police Accountability in Chicago, said the role of law enforcement should be one of support.

“I’ve never seen the police as being a blue line, in fact I really don’t like that analogy. We are not a blue line, but what we are is a blue piece of thread and we are woven into the community,” Barnes said.

Below are the list of finalists, with a link to each full Q&A session:

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