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Madison Police Chief Mike Koval was notably reluctant when the Madison Police Department's Policy Procedure and Review Ad Hoc Committee proposed to hire an outside consulting group to conduct a year-long comprehensive study of the department he leads. That wasn’t particularly surprising. Police chiefs are protective of their officers and their budget priorities; they don’t generally invite scrutiny and pressure to change.

But now that the California-based OIR Group has submitted its study, Koval’s response has been constructive. He hasn’t embraced the whole of the study, but he has accepted that it can serve as a resource for improving the department.

Koval says he sees the study as an “affirmation that this is a pretty good department.” Yet he acknowledges that “pretty good” is not sufficient when he says: “Could we stand areas of improvement? But of course we can."

The best way forward for the Madison Police Department is to maintain an honest dialogue about which reforms are necessary and which reforms are optional. By remaining open to this dialogue, Koval is serving the best interests of the department he leads and the community it must serve.

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