The recent article at Madison.com leaves me with the impression that Chief Noble Wray is not up to the task of securing Madison (Madison 360: Wray offers insights into ‘troubled’ University Avenue). I know a lot of people will focus on the racial component of what he said, but what I see if a police chief who is bewildered and unable to solve the problems facing the city he is responsible for. What does he spend the whole article do? Placing blame. Maybe it’ll work in a political sense, I’m sure it’ll make conservatives happy, but it won’t make Madison one bit safer.
University is a heavily traveled urban thoroughfare, and the block in question has student bars sprinkled on one side and the upscale Fluno Center — an executive education building that is part of the University of Wisconsin’s School of Business — dominating the other.
As I drove through about 1:45 a.m. one recent Saturday night, the area was abuzz with police. That’s understandable given the headlines this summer. A shooting in May injured three people, and in a recent incident, Montee Ball, the UW running back and Heisman Trophy candidate, was beaten in the nearby 500 block. Police have had to use pepper spray to quell fights and there has regularly been late-night tension in the vicinity, especially on weekends.
In a recent interview at his office, I asked Police Chief Noble Wray: Why now, why there, and how long has it been percolating?
In sum, Wray says the trend has evolved over two or three years and is caused by a nomadic group of between 60 and 150 African-American men, many with gang connections, who have chosen this area, typically dominated by mostly white UW students, for their entertainment purposes.
Where are the solutions? Where is the plan? Shouldn’t the police chief be talking to the press about his solution? I mean, assuming he has a solution…
After all the bars that the Madison police department closed, look what the police chief is saying:
Wray continues, “I call it kind of this nomadic group of people that has had an impact on other licensed establishments (bars) throughout Madison,” pointing to R Place and other bars. “When we closed those up and we shut them down, this nomadic group ends up in downtown Madison,” Wray says.
Is that an admission that his harsh policy of shutting down bars is a failure? It sure looks like a failure, but it would be nice if Mr. Wray would demonstrate that he has learned anything from the past. Once again, contrast how the article describes downtown Madison being “abuzz” with police with what happened at R Place:
Flowers said he asked for police to be present outside the bar at closing time but was told they couldn’t baby-sit his business. He said he feels singled out for problems along Park Street, and that police should be concerned about other bars, too.
Don’t get me wrong, if there’s a problem downtown, it makes sense to have a bigger police presence. However, it would be nice if someone would show the same kind of consideration to other places in Madison…say the Southwest side…
Look at this: Shots heard on southwest side early Sunday, police say
Would some neighborhood officers working the beat(s) on the Southwest side make progress? I think they would.
Under Mayor Dave Cieslewicz’s regime there really was not much for potential for progress on crime because crime issues are not cool. Mayor Cieslewicz loved cool issues (see the trolley). Crime issues tend to result in heated discussion, online flame wars, David Blaska talking about undewear, and other unpleasantries. The short version on crime discussions: Not cool.
However, under the new regime, I get the impression that Mayor Soglin is more interested in how the city runs, not the coolness factor. While I don’t always agree with Mayor Soglin, I do trust him to sincerely work on an issue.
So what’s the Mayor’s anti-crime plan? Soglin’s police chief just threw up his hands in frustration. Surely we can do better…
I don’t live in Madison any more, I moved to Verona. So I’m just some non-Madison resident now, although I still do own property on the West side of Madison and feel a strong connection to the area. I find myself in the area often. When we moved, guess which part of time we felt uncertain about buying a house in? And that was despite the fact that the prices for houses on the far Southwest side seemed to be less costly than other places in Madison.
I don’t mean to overstate the problems on the Southwest side of Madison. I’m kind of a night owl so I jogged and walked late at night and never had any problems. Of course, I lived on the other side of Gammon, so that might have had something to do with it too. There were some scary incidents at the New Towne Pub though…
Categories: | Madison | Media | Public Safety