Back in the good ol' days, I interviewed Joel Plant, the mayor's MPD liaison, about the construction of a new police facility in Madison.
The issue strikes at the heart of an ongoing debate in Madison over safety, with most political actors supporting increased attention on law enforcement to prevent burglaries and assaults, and a vocal minority on the left that sees an increase in police presence as a reactionary response to one of the symptoms of poverty, neglected schools, drug addiction, ghettoization etc.
Plant explained to me that historically police officers have done their 6 months of "pre-field" training at an MATC facility, which is fairly standard throughout the state many cops do their training at technical colleges. During that time the MPD was a tenant of MATC, and paid the college rent.
Unfortunately, MATC dropped a bombshell on the cops a couple years ago: they were going to demolish the facility. MPD subsequently resorted to temporary housing, which, according to Plant, is inadequate. There is not enough room for physical training, there's no room for maneuvers etc.
This week, Mayor Dave is pumped about the most recent class of officers and the new facility they trained in. "This state-of-the-art facility underscores our commitment to train our officers like no other city in the country." I always had an inkling that MPD officers were a little more academic than average, but the numbers Cieslewicz cited for police applications were impressive nevertheless:
These 13 [new] recruits represented the top 1% of the record 1,700 people who applied for these jobs.
And it's not just that these are the best of the best applicants. They also reflect our community. I'm always impressed by the life experiences and educational backgrounds of our new officers. This year's class included those trained in subjects as diverse as physics, anthropology and history (we even have an English teacher, so I expect those police reports will become better organized now and more compelling - reports that begin with, "It was a dark and stormy night" will not be acceptable).
Damn. 1700. During a recession you'd expect law enforcement would be the only place hiring, because of the expected rise in crime. The problem is, this recession, especially in Madison, didn't seem to result in crime increases. Have no fear rejected applicants, maybe as the economy improves people will get selfish and ruthless again. Then we'll need you.