MADISON, Wis. — Madison’s police chief has announced plans to remove more criminals from the city’s streets amid an increase in violence, but some critics say the plan has racist overtones.
Madison Police Chief Mike Koval’s plan comes in response to the increasing number of homicides and reports of gunfire in the city, the Wisconsin State Journal reported .
“There is an anxiety level in this city that is palpable,” Koval said.
The plan includes arresting numerous “egregious offenders and gang members.”
Koval’s most-wanted list heavily features black criminals even though less than 8 percent of Madison’s population is black.
Koval said most homicide victims this year have been black and his response is seeking to protect the black community.
“Rather than always focus on the suspect element of the algorithm, I prefer to look at it from a victim’s lens,” he said. “When seven out of 10 are African-American, why is nobody concerned that young, black people are having their lives taken from them?”
Koval said the goal is to incarcerate as many people on the list as possible and scare away those police can’t find.
“I want them to know that we are aware of your presence, that you are in and out of all these disturbances. That you aren’t anonymous,” he said.
Madison Mayor Paul Soglin said he supports the plan.
“I think the chief is fully aware of his constitutional obligations and constitutional responsibilities of the Madison police department,” Soglin said. “I’m confident they will act within the law and they are going to serve all of us, regardless of our race or income by making Madison a safer place.”
The plan is similar to a 72-hour operation in 2015 that resulted in the arrests of more than 10 individuals, Koval said.
“That bought us, relatively speaking, a quiet summer,” he said.
Information from: Wisconsin State Journal, http://www.madison.com/wsj