The Future: A New Chief Speaks Out (Part XII)

future 3I am concluding this series on the future of policing with a short essay from a new chief and a person I hired over twenty years ago. He is Madison’s new police chief.

I remember my pre-employment interview with Mike Koval because when I asked him (as I asked many others) where do you see yourself ten years from now he quickly answered, “Your job, chief!”

Now he’s there and it’s now his opportunity to build on the past.


This is how Chief Mike Koval sees the future of policing.

“Regrettably, some of tchief kovalhe idealism that attracted me to a career in policing for the City of Madison (social workers with a gun and badge, circa 1983), have given way to a post-911 world where the ‘war’ on terror (actual or perceived) has created a much more militaristic, reactive, and tactical solution mind-set in many of our agencies. Looking toward the future, I see this as the new “normal” and it is disconcerting.

“When I peer into the future, I see the chasm between the ‘have’s’ and the ‘have not’s’ as ever widening. As a result, I believe that issues of challenged neighborhoods, homelessness, episodic events with those struggling with mental illness and a myriad of other issues related to dire economic conditions for many will continue to plaque our communities. The criminal justice system will increasingly become the first (and last) option as social service programs continue to free fall.

“At a time when our nation’s police department’s need to have officers eager to embrace their role(s) as social workers and community organizers, there will be heightened expectations on making communities safe – no matter the cost to individual rights of privacy.

“Yet I remain hopeful that there is still time to construct a paradigm shift away from this troubling prediction. It will require passionate leaders who strive to recruit/train/empower those who share a common goal of policing, committed to the proposition that our community would be better served with guardians than warriors.”

What do you think? What is your preferred future for police?


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  1. Police as “Social Workers”… Puleeze…. I don’t look to the police as social workers, that’s what qualified Social Workers already do a bad enough job at. I look to the police to keeping the streets and myself and my neighbors safe, first and foremost, I look to them to protect me against predators by pro-active policing…. 50 years of failed liberal policies aren’t going to be repaired by the law Enforcement Officers of the USA. Chief Koval sounds like a pandering politician, but then maybe that’s what you get from any Police Chief from any City… Political correctness…


    1. What makes you think that conservative policies have been a success in this country particularly in in the last 34 years with Reaganomics? Where were the cops when those civil rights workers were murdered in the South and one of those murderers was an Alabama state police trooper? I guess that cops thought that the civil workers were predators?


    2. When Lyndon Johnson launch the War on Poverty program, before Reagan came into office in 1980s, LBJ’s poverty program had cut poverty in half and we could have eliminate it or minimize poverty if Reagan had not dismantled LBJ’s program.


  2. I want to hear more from Chief Koval about how he plans to keep the public safe from group think, loose cannons, dishonest people or just plain biased apologists in his police department. They must stop pretending like these issues don’t exist. It’s impossible for them not to exist and equally impossible for leadership to know where they are with the current lack of early warning system, on-going screening, forward-facing wearable cameras and no public database that keeps stats on complaints, investigations and outcomes of excessive force incidents. These things will exist in the near future but wouldn’t it be remarkable if the effort was clean, honest and led from with in? Such an effort would represent leadership at it’s finest.


  3. Rebecca Leber writes: “Eventually, the Ferguson police could enter into an agreement with the Justice Department to reform its practices. Close to two-dozen cities have entered into similar “consent decrees” since 1997. An example is Los Angeles, which agreed to change its practices following a long, well-publicized history of police misconduct.”

    I know in education there are times when the oversight of a school has to be direct; for example a school in Boston that is under court mandate … I would hope that there is some oversight of the different and diverse police departments rather than wait for these situations to arise. In Massachusetts we had a young person in the Bridgewater State hospital (that is a euphemism because there is not much hospital in the criminal penalty institution ) who was known to be psychotic who was restrained by the personnel and he died in the restraints . It doesn’t appear that there were adequate medical personnel on board and the staff who are supposed to do the restraining have minimum training in working with mentally ill persons. The Governor comes up with a bureaucratic response and transfers the “Hospital” into a new box on the organizational chart but it looks to be window dressing.
    Just as the schools have more and more young people who are living in poverty, there is malnutrition, mental illness, all the disease that go along with poverty and yet we seem to blame the child or the family. Are there more ways that public schools and police departments can work together? We like to see every child as having the opportunity to develop potential and we try not to label children as “failures” yet there are bureaucratic forces that push us into the rigid interpretations….
    jean in massachusetts


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