Body cameras, police horses, tasers, employing Near West Side residents and new technology for police report writing are possible future Marquette Police Department initiatives discussed at the MUPD Advisory Board meeting on Dec. 8.
“I think the body cameras and the RMS (reporting) system are probably the most urgent needs we would be looking at,” MUPD Chief Paul Mascari said at the meeting.
MUPD is in the initial phase of finding a new software system for writing police reports. Mascari said the department uses a system normally used by campus security groups, not campus police departments. It’s interested in using the ProPhoenix Public Safety Software.
“We have a technology-steering group with IT services,” Mascari said. “So we will evaluate those different technology initiatives like any other technology initiative on campus.”
In addition, MUPD is considering getting body cameras and will evaluate different kinds of them next semester. The goal is to pick a policy model, for using the cameras, by the end of next semester. Mascari said getting the cameras depends on technology needs and project management.
To continue working with the greater Milwaukee community, MUPD will look to hire a citizen from the Near West Side neighborhood to work as a Safety Services Officer in the residence halls and university-owned apartments. Safety Services Officers patrol each building’s lobby desk throughout the nighttime and early morning hours.
“That’s something we really want to try with the next vacancies we have in our Safety Services Officer rank as kind of a pipeline to the police officer position,” Mascari said.
Keith Stanley, the board’s community representative and executive director of Avenues West and the Near West Side Partners, complimented the idea.
“I think that’s an excellent idea,” Stanley said. “That’s exactly what the Near West Side Partners have been looking at.”
Additionally, Mascari said MUPD is going to look at using tasers as a less lethal force option. A policy specifying proper use of tasers would have to be adopted prior to MUPD using them.
Mascari also mentioned that MUPD could eventually use police horses. He was previously approached by the Milwaukee Police Department about using them.
“We’re eager to work with the department to develop policies with these new initiatives,” said Thomas Hammer, the board’s chair and associate law professor.
The board discussed when MUPD should issue campus safety alerts that are texted and emailed to students when it determines there is an ongoing threat. The discussion included review of MUPD policies such as fair and impartial policing training.
The board asked Mascari to comment on last week’s Marquette Tribune editorial that called for a reevaluation of when to distribute the alerts, in addition to a November Facebook post in the Official Marquette Parents group. The post was written by a parent whose child told them of a crime being committed against them, and the parent was wondering why a safety alert wasn’t sent out.
“What we learned from this is that we have to be quick to respond to social media,” Mascari said about the November Facebook post. “We don’t want to inundate people,” Mascari said about issuing safety alerts. “We don’t want people to become numb.”
After the meeting, Mascari said hiring a Safety Services Officer from the community could only strengthen the relationship between Marquette and the Near West Side. He added that MUPD will work with the mayor’s office and the Near West Side Partners to identify candidates for the next available position.
The board’s spring semester meetings will take place Feb. 9 and April 5 from 3:30-5:30 p.m. in AMU 157.