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Virtual ‘Get to Know YOUR MPD’ events highlight diversity in Madison police

The monthly Q&A sessions highlight specific groups of officers, starting with the Black Officer Coalition.
Updated: May. 16, 2021 at 8:50 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Getting to know the Madison Police Department is the goal behind a series of virtual events hosted by the agency. The series kicked off Sunday, with more monthly events planned.

Each Q&A session highlights a different group of MPD officers, starting with the Black Officer Coalition (BOC), a group that formed within the last year. Co-leader Neal Crowder explained the BOC works to bridge the gap between the Black community and MPD as well as working to hire more Black officers.

Crowder was one of four officers who shared their perspective as part of the first virtual “Getting to Know YOUR MPD” event.

“My goal is really just that, to introduce myself, to let people put a face to me as an officer,” he explained.

MPD Training and Recruiting Sergeant Theresa Magyera designed this virtual series as a recruiting tool and a community outreach effort.

“When you look at role models, typically we aspire to be like someone who looks like us, so if we don’t have people of all different backgrounds, all different ethnicities that are officers, then we’re doing our community a disservice,” she explained.

Magyera said she wanted to highlight the diversity in MPD to attract an even more diverse pool of applicants.

“Maybe people will want to apply because they feel connected to that group of people,” she said.

Officer Crowder echoed that goal, saying he hopes to be “a beacon for young Black males, females, anybody that wants to pursue this career.”

Growing up on the west side of Chicago, Crowder said he always respected police, but there was a lot of distrust within his community.

“A lot of the officers that I grew up with and policed my community were white men, and so sometimes it was hard to see if they understood things the same way I did,” he explained.

Starting at MPD three years ago, that background came with him, shaping the kind of officer he wanted to be.

“I wanted to bring those experiences and come from a perspective of showing things from the other side,” Crowder said.

Crowder said he hopes the new virtual events will help people see themselves reflected in the agency.

“There’s a place where they can reach out and people that are there for them, look like them, have the same experience as they do and can be there and help them through the process,” he explained.

He also said he hopes it can be a start to building more community relationships and working through any distrust that exists.

“We can’t do our job effectively without the community’s trust and engagement,” Crowder said, adding, “All of us are just people outside of this uniform and are happy to talk to anybody about the profession and our experiences.”

Over the next few months, the “Get to Know” sessions will highlight Latinx officers, LGBTQ+ members of the force, women and “rookies”—officers with less than three years of experience.

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