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Updated: 7 min 7 sec ago

Homelessness ordinance meets opposition, rejection at committee

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 2:51pm

A contentious ordinance proposed by Mayor Paul Soglin, which many see as a anti-homeless, met stiff opposition from community and committee members Tuesday night.

As Soglin’s most recent attempt to tackle homelessness in Madison, the proposed ordinance would set a time limit on use of downtown benches and other public property.

Homeless issues have long been hotly contested in the city. They were a major talking point during the last mayoral election and spurred a protest downtown in May.

Madison protesters raise voices for homeless rightsMore than a dozen people gathered at Philosophers Grove to protest and speak out for homeless rights Thursday. The protesters …

Attendees of the City-County Homeless Issues Committee derided the proposal as inadequate and a virtual outlawing of homelessness.

Committee members listened to input from various community members and representatives. The majority of speakers denounced the ordinance and urged the committee not to recommend the council to accept the ordinance, including County Supervisor Kyle Richmond, District 4.

Richmond and others contended the ordinance is immoral and will not be successful in dispersing homeless people from downtown Madison.

“Certain people can sit in these public spaces and it’s okay, and certain people can’t and I don’t get it,”  Richmond said. “Actually I do get it, and it’s disgusting.”

County Supervisor Heidi Wegleitner, District 2, a member of the committee, agreed with community members and said the ordinance would be ineffective and morally wrong. Other committee members agreed with Wegleitner during discussion before the committee unanimously recommended the council not accept Soglin’s proposal.

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Categories: Local Media

Committee reviews local sentiment towards police, body cameras

Wed, 08/26/2015 - 2:01pm

A newly established city committee met Tuesday to review community and city employee responses on the possibility of Madison Police Department implementing body cameras.

Jacqueline Boggess, YWCA co-director of Center for Family Policy & Practice, conducted the community engagement sections which attempted to gauge public sentiment on body cameras and the police in general. Boggess presented the findings in a report to the Community Policing and Body Camera Ad Hoc Committee.

Body cameras are being considered as a possible tool to combat police abuse and increase accountability in Madison. Similar programs have been instituted in cities across the country, but data on their merits is mixed.

Activist addresses problem of police brutality Guest speaker and activist Todd St. Hill spoke Thursday at University of Wisconsin’s chapter of the International Socialist Organization to address …

Boggess talked with groups which advocate for minorities and found many of them shared the same three concerns with body cameras: manipulation of the camera, false sense of security and privacy. She said minority groups focused primarily on manipulation and security, while white respondents generally focused on privacy.

The report found ultimately people are unsure and uninformed about the efficacy of body cameras. But respondents universally agreed body cameras would need new policy to help fix problems in community police relationships.

“Body cameras are not a panacea,” Boggess said.

The report also looked at community sentiments toward law enforcement in general and found Madison residents generally shared feelings of mistrust, fear and frustration at profiling and discrimination.

Boggess also said all groups expressed concern for the black community and pointed at the police events involving black people that occurred over the summer as a contributing factor.

The report also found that members of the Latino community said immigration issues were the most important. Members of Latino advocacy groups present at the meeting agreed and also pointed to a fear of driving as a consistent problem for Latinos, especially those who are undocumented.

The report concluded with several recommendations including ending police quotas and establishing protections against racial profiling.

The committee voted to defer discussion on a recommendation to City Council.

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Categories: Local Media