by Brianna Rae
This week, the Madison Police Department (MPD) unveiled a new campaign for local recruitment of officers in hopes of piquing more interest in the idea and career path of community service through policing.
With the help of Adams Outdoor Advertising, MPD designed a billboard to overlook the beltline near Fish Hatchery Road, which reads, “Find Your Blue Calling | Join the Team.”
Sgt. Tim Patton, head of recruitment for MPD and supervisor for their pre-service police academy, speaks of the campaign as a means to acquire ‘homegrown talent’ – to recruit officers who have a vested interest in and familiarity with the city and people of Madison.
During a time of tense and highly scrutinized relations between police departments, police officers and the communities they serve, both locally and nationally, the importance of an effort and initiative like this cannot be understated.
For Sgt. Patton, it’s one of many steps in the right direction. “Given what’s going on in our community and in our nation, it’s incredibly important to reach out to local people. We need to be doing everything possible to build trust in our community, and having people who have personal connections to our community is the first step,” he said.
Originally from Madison and a graduate of Memorial High School and UW-Madison, Sgt. Patton is himself ‘homegrown talent.’ He taught for ten years at Memorial before deciding to join MPD in 2002.
Joining him with other officers and community members are new officers Tyrone Williams and Kristin Parks, who also represent the mission and success of the campaign for local involvement in policing.
Williams, 26, grew up on the North side of Madison, attending Madison East High School and later Edgewood College. His educational background is in art, and he worked for a non-profit for two years before deciding to join the force.
“The reason I joined was because I feel that I need to give back to the community that gave to me…There were a lot of people that took time out of their day to help me become who I am today, and it’s only right to continue that tradition,” Williams said.
Parks, also 26 and a native of Madison, was hired by the department in 2012. Like Patton, she attended Memorial High School and UW-Madison, and her path in community service began when she started coaching at Memorial.
“I wanted to join the department because I have a personal investment in the Madison community, and it’s only right to pay it forward to the place that I grew up in and have ties to,” said Parks.
Sgt. Patton said that this initiative is two-fold. First, there is need for officers to have strong ties to their community and to bring to the table their own unique personal experiences and skill sets; and second, MPD needs to continue working on building trust with the community, as well as produce and maintain a department that is committed to transparency.
He emphasizes the need for community feedback and building relationships, and urges people to bring their individual story to MPD to serve their community in a way that they may previously have never considered.
“We want people to pick up the phone, send us an email, and start the conversation,” Patton said. MPD is currently in their final two months of accepting applications (deadline: Nov. 2) for the next year, which begins in September 2016.
Anyone who’s interested in serving may call (608) 266-4190, or visit madisonpolice.com and click on the ‘Join the Team’ page, which will provide information about the hiring process and the department.
In the coming weeks, The Madison Times will present a series of articles that will serve to demystify and inform the community about the mission and operations of the Madison Police Department, as well as serve as a platform for the community to ask questions, provide feedback, and become involved in the process. Topics included will be: legal literacy, police academy curriculum, interviews with academy graduates, community relations and much more.