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Madison Chief Posts Message to Community Over Shooting

March 09, 2015  | 

Madison, Wis., Police Chief Mike Koval wrote the following message to the community following the fatal officer-involved shooting of Tony Robinson, 19, Friday night. The message was posted in the chief's blog on the City of Madison's Website.

Sir Robert Peel, arguably one of those who first articulated the necessity of having "police" in our midst, created a number of fundamental principles by which police should view their mission.  Peel lived and made these observations in the mid-1800's. Surprisingly, despite the passage of time, many of these tenets still resonate today, in terms of what we expect from our police. The principle which has always loomed largest for me is:  "The police, at all times, should maintain a relationship with the public that gives reality to the historic tradition that the POLICE ARE THE PUBLIC AND THE PUBLIC ARE THE POLICE (my emphasis added).

I begin this blog with this thought hanging heavy in my heart.  Our community is grieving and hurting over the loss of a young African American man, who life was ended far too soon.  His family, his friends, and our community are in mourning.  The police are part of this community---and we share this sense of loss.  I have stated as much to representatives of his family, in statements to the press, and to our work force. Reconciliation cannot begin without my stating "I am sorry," and I don't think I can say this enough.  I am sorry.  I hope that, with time, Tony's family and friends can search their hearts to render some measure of forgiveness.  Certainly, this will not take place soon given the circumstances.  It may take some time for this loop to close but I pray that it will, in fact, close.

There is a process that now takes place which involves two tiers of independent review of the events that occurred on Williamson Street last Friday night.  The State of Wisconsin's Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) has the exclusive authority to investigate all elements of the officer involved shooting--forensics, interviews, technology feeds, etc..  MPD, like the public, has questions that will only be answered when DCI's findings are set for release.  This investigation is then turned directly over to the second layer of review, the District Attorney's Office, who then makes a ruling on the question of whether there is criminal culpability on the part of my officer.  I would urge that everyone consider that the foundations of the much-maligned criminal justice system should still pay heed to the basic requirements of due process and fundamental fairness.  If it were any one of us accused of wrong doing, wouldn't we hope for as much?

No one joins my profession hoping to do harm to anyone; we put on "armor" (bullet resistant vests) each day with the understanding that today may be the day that I provide the ultimate act of selflessness; to lay down one's life for a complete stranger.  I cannot think of a more noble cause than to be a "guardian" to those who need us most--the vulnerable, the voiceless, the victims.  That is what I and so many like me have sworn to do and have made it our life's calling.  While I know that a sacred trust has been severely tested, I ask that people not define the legacy of service that this Department has provided to our public by this tragic incident.  Let us continue to demonstrate to you that our commitment transcends mere rhetoric. . .we show how much we care on a daily basis; one call at a time.  I realize that in order for us to achieve greater strides in community-based policing, the cornerstone for making that a reality starts with us earning your trust.  I want that to happen, my Department wants that to happen, desperately.  Remember, we live here, we work here, we go to church here, we're your neighbor(s), our kids go to school with your kids, and we all want the best of what life has to offer our families.  The police are the public and the public are the police. . .


Comments (18)

Displaying 1 - 18 of 18

Michael @ 3/9/2015 3:31 PM

Chief you should be apologizing to your officer for throwing him under the bus. What if he was defending his life or that of another. Choose your words carefully Chief, an apology conveys the image your officer is wrong. Let the facts come out first.

Michael @ 3/9/2015 3:51 PM

Chief you should also apologize to your officer for throwing him under the bus. Saying you are sorry conveys that your officer is in the wrong. What if the facts show the officer made the right decision and was defending his life or the life of another? It is bad enough that we are prejudged by the public but when a Chief does The same it is pathetic. Allowing the facts to come out before pandering.

Thinblueline @ 3/9/2015 4:11 PM

Chief you may end up apologizing to your officer for throwing him under the bus. Saying you are sorry and asking for forgiveness conveys the image that your officer did something wrong. The facts are not out yet and yet you seem to be saying it's the officer's fault. What if he was defending his life or the life of another? Apologizing and pandering will not work. I hope you realize the damage you are doing to the profession.

Tom Ret @ 3/9/2015 5:43 PM

This chief comes off as a weasel in his plea for forgiveness irrespective of the final analysis of the case. The family will no doubt conclude that if the chief is asking us for forgiveness, the officer must not have been justified in using lethal force which will lead to the inevitable lawsuit.
The chief should probably change his name from Koval to Grovel.
The involved officer is no doubt thinking, friends like the chief I don't need enemies.

Jfk @ 3/9/2015 6:05 PM

I agree with you, Thinblueline. It's as if the majority of these Police Chiefs have never been a street cop. Apologizing to the public and the family of the deceased before the facts and final determinations have been established is irresponsible and detrimental to the profession of law enforcement around the world. I also question the sad realization about the lack of protests and demonstrations generated when a Caucasian person is shot and killed by police. Is the African American community the only group who seriously care about the loss of life, or is it because this specific ethnic community automatically condemns the police just because it's a prevailing "us-against-them-mentality" due to a lack of communication and empathy from bothe sides? I'd like to see the truth come out one day. Either way, a human being lost their life and we ALL need to know why.

R Castro @ 3/9/2015 6:06 PM

Correct, Chief. You are certainly doing the politically correct thing, but are you doing the right thing? We don't know what happened in our State yet (California) but we would normally wait for the investigation to come out before we apologize for anything.

john wright @ 3/9/2015 6:08 PM

Ditto to the post of Thinblueline!

Mort Sahl @ 3/9/2015 6:18 PM

Have to agree with thinblueline. How about we wait until we have all the facts, then see who needs to apologize? Those protesters have no idea what happened and don't care, they just want to lynch a police officer.

Jon Retired LEO @ 3/9/2015 6:52 PM

I would echo the sentiments of Thinblueline. Let us please give the investigation time to be completed and do not give the Media, at least some of them, the ammunition to aggravate what has taken place. Too many times the armchair quarterbacks call it before all the evidence is in.

Ftrnr @ 3/9/2015 7:01 PM

Sorry? Have you already decided the officer was wrong? We apologize when we do something wrong, and I don't believe any of us know enough about what happened to make that determination as of right now. Remember this Chief, if and when the determination is made that what the officer did was right; because if the officer was right, then he is the victim who will have to live with this forever. Lead by example Chief, figure it all out and THEN make your statement. Or just do the right thing and resign.

PW @ 3/9/2015 8:27 PM

This Chief is a TOTAL DISGRACE to the bade; he is groveling for "forgiveness" from the public before he even knows the facts or IF, and I stress IF, his officer did anything wrong. Let's look at this from a logical perspective for just a moment. We have a criminal, a thug with prior felony arrests involving mob action, armed robbery, and home invasion with a shotgun, who is involved in another violent encounter (apparently attempting to strangle his victim). Clearly, this "young man" is a highly credible, upstanding and productive member of society; he must be the role model that every parent wants their child to emulate. Anyhow, sarcasm aside, this offender is killed while fighting the police, but hey, let's apologize for the actions of an officer with an apparently unblemished background absent the facts. How can I say he has an apparently unblemished background, well we all know the media would certainly have put every flaw of that officer out there, if there was anything "question

Another Donut Please @ 3/9/2015 8:36 PM

Way to stand up for your officer Chief. Maybe it's time for another line of work?

Jack Webb @ 3/10/2015 4:16 AM

Wow ! I think the Chief has a future writing for "True Detective" magazine or a script for the "Twilight Zone."
What a pandering, narcissistic, self serving " ahol"!

Hospitalchief @ 3/10/2015 5:04 AM

So sad Chief! Really pathetic!!

Ordinary Joe @ 3/10/2015 5:44 AM

I saw him on TV. I could not believe he was kowtowing to the media. It was if he had no backbone. I realize any death is tragic, but to go on and on about how sorry he was does not show compassion. It is almost an admission of guilt.

Chaos @ 3/10/2015 6:19 AM

Kovals is behaving like the community wants him too. Showing compassion, loving up on the "victims" family, saying all the BS he needs to so the blacks don't act like blacks and trash the community. He'll probably be Law Enforcement Officer of the Year....EVERY PLACE BUT IN THE SQUADROOM OF THE MPD and PDs everywhere that real police gather to do their jobs. He abandoned his Officer and that's disgraceful but they'll love him in MadCity

DISPATCHER @ 3/10/2015 7:44 AM

I just want to point out that I'm sure the officer who killed the kid is also sorry. He is sorry that it came to that. With that being said, it doesn't change the fact that it seems the officer was justified in shooting that kid. The officer and the Chief can be justified and still sorry about the situation. So, I think maybe the Chief was just trying to convey that the officer is just like them and feels just like them but because of the actions of the kid the officer had to protect himself and that the officer didn't take pleasure in what he had to do, but none-the-less he had no choice. I am sorry for the family of the kid's but I still know in my heart that the officer did the right thing. It still doesn't make any of it any easier for the officer, his family, or his department or the kid's family or friends. The chief was just trying to let others know that the police feel too, they are not just sitting around cheering and laughing about it. Taking a life is a hard thing to do.

P&S Veteran @ 3/10/2015 7:48 AM

New Police Officer's Prayer...

God, please let me survive the gunshot, knife attack, or other such action that I must endure before it is politically correct for me to defend my life, reputation, and the future of my family.

Very sad that this is becoming the reality of our chosen service to society.

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