After losing out on a federal grant for hiring more police amid an increase in gun violence and a record number of homicides in the city this year, Madison officials are seeking to pay for adding eight officers to the police force.
Madison had applied for a $1.87 million grant to bring on 15 new patrol officers and added $750,000 in the city’s 2018 operating budget as a full local match for the grant. But since learning in November that Madison would not receive grant funding, a group of local lawmakers are seeking to hire more officers with solely city dollars.
The proposal, sponsored by Mayor Paul Soglin and six City Council members, would redirect about $580,000 of the already-budgeted $750,000 to hire eight patrol officers and purchase three squad cars.
The remaining $170,000 would stay in the Madison Police Department’s budget, and its use would be determined by the City Council and mayor.
To make a change to the finalized 2018 budget, though, a 15-vote supermajority of the 20-member City Council is needed. During budget deliberations in November, an amendment that fully funded the grant’s local match received 14 votes.
It would cost about $600,000 annually in ongoing costs for the officers.
The proposal will be introduced at Tuesday’s City Council meeting without discussion. Deliberations will take place at future meetings.
If approved, eight recruits would be added to the police department’s academy that begins in May.
Increasing the size of the police force has been a priority of Chief Mike Koval as the city has seen a rise in shootings this year and reached a record number of homicides at 11, surpassing a previous high of 10 set in 2008.
A study conducted by the city’s police and finance departments under a requirement in the 2016 budget indicated a need for 13 more patrol officers based on workload and between 37 and 361 officers depending on population comparisons.
The department now has authorization for 461 sworn personnel, about 1.9 officers for every 1,000 residents.