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Updated: 58 min 6 sec ago

DA drops criminal charges against Genele Laird

Fri, 06/24/2016 - 5:59pm

Following Genele Laird’s controversial arrest Tuesday, Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne decided to transfer Laird to a restorative justice program and drop all criminal charges if she completes the terms of the program.

Instead, Laird, 18, will be enrolled in the Community Restorative Court, a pilot program designed to resolve misdemeanors before formal charging. Laird, whose arrest video went viral Tuesday, was originally ineligible for the program because she was referred on felony charges. But Ozanne made an exception after reviewing witness reports.

“Restorative justice is not a place for me to … sweep things under the rug or to avoid making difficult decisions” Ozanne said. “It is a place for this community to work with its young people to build a more just and peaceful community.”

The footage of the arrest led to protest and an internal administrative review by the Madison Police Department.

Madison Police Chief Mike Koval said the viral video did not motivate them to make this decision. He said the officers suggested the Community Restorative Court program try to find the best possible resolution.

Koval stated this will not be the new normal and expects that Ozanne will continue to look at cases on a case-by-case basis.

“This person can have a second chance and a second opportunity, avoid a criminal record and the stigma that will follow her the rest of her life and see in fact we can’t holistically look at how we can make a better outcome for her,” Koval said.

Ozanne said all of the victims supported the decision to transfer Laird to the CRC.

Ron Johnson, the CRC Coordinator, said the program is victim-based, giving all victims the option to be involved in the process.

“It’s an opportunity here to help heal this community that has been fractured by this situation and this incident,” Johnson said.

MPD to review arrest at East Towne Mall that sparked community outrageCommunity criticism over Madison Police Department’s handling of an arrest Tuesday has prompted MPD Chief Mike Koval to respond. Two …

If she does not complete all the terms of the program, Ozanne said he is prepared to charge her with five criminal charges, including battery to a law enforcement officer and disorderly conduct while armed.

Ozanne said Laird accepted responsibility for her actions.

“Research shows that an approach like that used by the CRC can generate better feelings of satisfaction and fairness on the part of the victims and offenders,” Ozanne said. “It can also, for someone like Miss Laird, reduce her risk to reoffend.”

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Categories: Local Media

UWPD chief to retire in August

Wed, 06/22/2016 - 10:00pm

After 25 years of serving the University of Wisconsin Police Department, UW Police Chief Sue Riseling will retire in August to lead the International Association of Campus Law Enforcement Administrators.

“It is with tremendous gratitude and immense pride that I end my career at UW,” Riseling said in a statement. “I’m blessed to have worked with such a talented group of professionals on campus, but especially in the UWPD.”

Twenty five years in, UWPD Chief talks challenges, struggles on the jobIn 1991, when Sue Riseling became police chief, University Wisconsin Police Department only had a handful of computers, still took polaroid …

Riseling became chief in 1991, making her the first woman and the youngest person to lead a Big Ten university police force.

During her time at the university, she dealt with necessary security improvements after 9/11 and the rise of university shootings. Riseling led efforts to put in place emergency notifications, threat assessment policies, crisis drills and active shooter trainings. Campus crime rates also dropped to a 40-year low.

“I appreciate all of her work to keep our community safe, to train and lead a superb group of police officers, and to navigate an always-complex political environment,” Chancellor Rebecca Blank said in a statement.

After her retirement, she plans to lead IACLEA, a group which advances public safety for educational institutions by providing educational resources, advocacy and professional development services.

Assistant Chief Brian Bridges will serve as interim chief beginning after Riseling’s last day August 7.

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Categories: Local Media

MPD to review arrest at East Towne Mall that sparked community outrage

Wed, 06/22/2016 - 4:46pm

Community criticism over Madison Police Department’s handling of an arrest Tuesday has prompted MPD Chief Mike Koval to respond.

Two officers arrested 18-year-old Genele Laird at East Towne Mall for disorderly conduct and for making threats to the officers and mall staff.

According to an MPD incident report, Laird confronted a Taco Bell employee at the mall, claiming that her phone had been stolen. She then displayed a knife and threatened the employee. When mall security responded, Laird made multiple threats to kill them.

Shortly after, MPD officers were dispatched at 5:15 p.m., and used a taser to subdue her. Laird was then transported to the Dane County Jail, where she still remains.

At a news conference Wednesday, Koval said an administrative review is underway for the two arresting officers to determine if they used appropriate force.

The incident garnered widespread attention after video footage of the arrest surfaced on social media shortly after the incident occurred. The video has fueled an outpouring of mixed support and condemnation for the actions of the two MPD officers from the community and elected officials.

In the video, a lone officer attempts to subdue a struggling Laird before receiving assistance from another officer. Together, they wrestle her to the ground and handcuff her after using an electronic control device, a form of taser designed to incapacitate specific muscle areas. Laird spits on the officers, who then responded by putting what appears to be a bag on her head — which Koval later clarified to be a mesh anti-spitting hood.

“[The arrest] went from bad to worse in terms of her unwillingness to simply surrender her liberty,” Koval said.

Koval refused to release the names of the officers involved, citing numerous threats against them the 911 center has received. He declined to pass judgment until the conclusion of the internal review and said he was in no rush to put the officers back on patrol.

Both arresting officers were sent to the hospital for injuries sustained from attempting to subdue Laird, but have since been released. One officer is on paid leave due to back problems stemming from the arrest.

Koval said he has spoken with several community leaders who reached out to him following the arrest as well as the suspect’s family.

“I met with alders and Michael Johnson of the Boys and Girls Club along with close family members [of Laird’s],” Koval said.

Koval demonstrates "spitting hood" used on Laird during arrest

— Teymour Tomsyck (@Teymoreorless) June 22, 2016

The Young Gifted and Black Coalition organized demonstrations demanding Laird’s release and criminal proceedings against the two arresting officers. State officials have also responded to the arrest.

In a statement, Sen. Stephen Nass, R-Whitewater, praised MPD for keeping the community safe and called out Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, for a statement, in which she called for an independent review of the officer’s actions. He said Taylor was being inflammatory for her use of the “race card.”

Koval said his department’s interactions with Madison residents are almost always peaceful and respectful, with only a handful of incidents ever escalating to violence.

This incident, however, comes at a time of conflict between MPD and community members. A June 7 City Council meeting led to heated confrontations between the chief and several alders over a proposed $400,000 review of the police department. The resolution passed after hours of tense conversation.

Madison City Council approves funding for police consultantAfter tense discussion, the Madison City Council almost unanimously approved a $400,000 resolution Tuesday to hire a consultant who will evaluate …

Koval said MPD would have to work even harder to overcome the negative narrative created by the video.

“We will redouble our efforts to community outreach to overcome the stigma of this incident,” Koval said.

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Categories: Local Media

UW campus Master Plan looks to make campus more eco-friendly

Mon, 06/20/2016 - 1:37pm

University of Wisconsin officials presented the final draft of the 2015 UW Campus Master Plan, which aims to reduce UW’s environmental impact, at a public meeting Friday.

The final draft of the Master Plan — a guide for campus growth renewed every 10 years — focuses on expanding upon infrastructure within campus instead of acquiring new land to build upon.

Gary Brown, campus planning and landscape architecture director who presented the final draft, said at the meeting that this type of expansion would help reduce the impact campus activities and construction have on the environment. This includes constructing energy efficient buildings and renovating existing buildings to make them more eco-friendly.

“The most sustainable building is the kind we don’t have to build,” Brown said.

The campus master plan aims to manage UW’s resources, make traveling around campus easier, celebrate the lakeside setting, revitalize outdoor spaces and help UW be “good neighbors” with surrounding areas, Brown said.

The campus master plan cost approximately $1.2 million to create, Brown said. Comparatively, the 2005 campus master plan took only $900,000 to create, as it was not as extensive as the current plan.

Brown said there are no estimates on the total cost of renovations because the plan acts as a guideline and may or may not be fully implemented. So far, construction on Witte Residence Hall and Memorial Union alone is estimated to total nearly $100 million.

Regents approve millions in funding for Witte, Memorial Union renovationsThe University of Wisconsin System Board of Regents unanimously approved millions of dollars in funding for renovations on Witte Residence …

Currently 70 percent complete, Brown said the Master Plan would increase available campus area — including both indoor and outdoor spaces — from the 25 million gross square feet available in 2005 to 28 million gross square feet.

This is the first time UW officials have created a comprehensive landscape Master Plan that looks to incorporate building construction with the expansion of green spaces, Brown said. Increasing parking facilities and improving stormwater management also form an important part of the plan, he said.

UW campus master plan shifts its future focus away from building constructionUniversity of Wisconsin officials presented Monday the long-term plan for the university and its facilities with an emphasis on creating more …

Brown said the plan looks toward further investment in renewable energy resources like solar panels. He also hinted at investing in wind energy in the future as well.

“We’re also embracing the future and trying to develop resource efficiency for future needs,” Brown said.

Campus Master Plan looks to expand research facilities, preserve natural beauty of campusKeeping future needs of University of Wisconsin in mind, creators of the 2015 Campus Master Plan preliminary draft outlined the …

Brown said the plan looks to improve public transportation efficiency, especially for cyclists, on University Avenue and other major intersections. Increasing urban bike paths and tracks is a key part of the plan as well.

Memorial Union terrace, which was partially completed in May, will be fully renovated by fall, Brown said.

The Terrace is finally backThe Memorial Union Terrace will not close following a successful graduation weekend and will remain open despite continuing construction work. …

UW Design Review Board, Joint West Campus Area Committee and Cit’s Common Council will review UW Campus Master Plan over the summer. UW officials will then present the revised plan to the public in September. The plan is expected to be completely finalized by January 2017.

Correction: A previous version of this .article incorrectly stated gross square feet values and the year of the plan’s completion. The Badger Herald regrets this error.

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Categories: Local Media