Dane County safety workers strive for change in police, community relationship
MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - One organization works around Dane County to bridge the gap between the community and the police.
For seven years, Focused Interruption has worked in Madison neighborhoods to hear from the public about the good and the bad. CEO Anthony Cooper described the organization as a part of the community which makes it easier to gauge people’s feelings.
“I would be lying if I could say we can unwrap all the centuries of trauma that is around police in community--in particular Black and brown communities,” he said.
Focused Interruption’s community safety workers team up with the Madison Police Department to support families. The non-profit organization receives referrals from MPD and takes calls from members in the neighborhood.
“CSW team works with lower risk challenges happening in our community and outreach team is more high risk,” Cooper said. “The neighborhood knows us, and we know them, so they feel comfortable talking with us.”
Community Safety Worker Aurey Leslie says there are many mixed messages on social media about the police, which he says can lead to distrust.
“You see police on any warfare calls, and it turns out ugly. The neighborhood knows us - and we know them - so they feel comfortable talking with us,” Leslie said.
Similarly, Madison Police Department also has neighborhood resource officers, who engage one on one with community members. Madison Chief Shon Barnes says after the recent homicide on Tree Lane there are more police patrolling the area.
“One you want to reinsure your public, which is very important, and then number two you want to ensure there’s no backlash or residual effects of what happens in violence,” Barnes said.
Chief Barnes says he also wants residents in Madison to have other outlets and resources.
“We don’t want to create a situation where people feel they’re being overpoliced and we don’t want to create a situation where people feel like the police are the 100% answer to your problems,” Chief Barnes said.
Leslie says Focused Interruptions has the community’s best interest in mind, to continue keeping families safe and supported.
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