By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Madison’s former police chief says the social justice movement bailing out suspected offenders and a criminal justice system that fails to hold criminals accountable are creating more victims in the liberal city.
A story last week in the Wisconsin State Journal drives home Mike Koval’s point.
Chris Rickert’s review finds:
Of 70 people bailed out of jail since last May by six social-justice activists, 25 have been charged with 108 felonies and 49 misdemeanors or municipal code violations alleged to have occurred after they were freed, a far higher re-arrest rate than typically seen among people released on bail nationally.
While the most common charge was bail-jumping, Rickert reports other offences include recklessly endangering safety, weapons charges, car theft, armed robbery, narcotics possession and strangulation or suffocation.
“One of our (law enforcement’s) responsibilities is to prevent ongoing crimes or escalation in addition to the crimes committed,” Koval said. “What we are seeing in these statistics in fact is that we’ve created new victims.”
Koval, frustrated with city politics and the constant criticism by Woke politicians and activists, retired in 2019 after 5 1/2-years as the Madison Police Department’s chief and a distinguished career in law enforcement.
Beyond the defund-the-police movement, the far left campaign to shut down the Dane County jail, and the bail initiatives, Koval said too many prosecutors and judges have created a revolving door in the back end of Dane County’s criminal justice system.
While Koval believes policymakers are right to have honest conversations about crime, punishment and the system of bail, accountability is too often missing from the discussions. And it’s draining the morale of the men and women in blue called on to “serve and to protect.”
“No doubt officers are frustrated to no end to see the efforts of their investigations … to see that front-end work summarily dismissed out of hand by judges or commissioners who don’t believe these people should be incarcerated or prosecutors taking a stand on what won’t be prosecuted,” Koval said. “To some it feels like abject capitulation to the Woke, politically correct movement.”
That same Woke movement often categorizes as racist questions about recidivism.
Koval, who spent most of his years in law enforcement in Madison, said he kept seeing the same chronic offenders, particularly juveniles, arrested over and over again. Officers were seeing them back out on the streets — sometimes re-offending — before the paperwork was processed.
While MPD reports statistics on about every aspect of it law enforcement activities, the District Attorney’s office and circuit court judges aren’t held to the same standard.
“While the world wants, as do I, the police department to show transparency and accountability, it fascinates me the same doesn’t hold true for prosecutors or judges when we’re looking at the kinds of serious prosecutions and sentences that are appropriate,” Koval said.