The Marquette University Police Department Advisory Board met Tuesday, April 18. This is the first meeting since last December.
The largest announcement out of the meeting is Axon, the company MUPD has been looking into buying body cameras from, will be giving out body cameras to police departments for free. Capt. Jeff Kranz said if he had to guess, the company is making this move because “the company gets most of their revenue for charging departments to have cloud storage space for video storage. So once they can get their cameras out there, they make money off of the departments for years.”
The cameras will likely be implemented sometime in the fall of 2017. MUPD has worked with the IT department to prepare for quick implementation once the cameras arrive, as well as beginning the training processes with officers.
The official agenda is online on the MUPD Advisory Board website.
Police Chief Paul Mascari announced to the board that from the beginning of 2014 to the end of 2016, a three-year period, robberies have decreased 54 percent. “These are very encouraging numbers,” Mascari said. He said that campus is safer since MUPD was commissioned. Keith Stanley, the board member representing the Near West Side community, said, “The police presence has deterred crime in the area.” Mascari also added the city of Milwaukee is not seeing the same numbers, so the decrease in robberies likely stems from the increased police presence of the MUPD.
Complaints against officers
Since October of 2015, there have only been five complaints filed against members of MUPD, a very small number for a police department. None of those complaints resulted in actions toward officers, and all were either disproved or not enough evidence could be gathered to prove or disprove the complaint.
Faculty board member Herbert Lowe asked Mascari if he found this small number normal. “With the nature of the business, it is somewhat surprising, but I’m not surprised,” Mascari said. “It goes to show the caliber of officers we have.”
Thomas Hammer, the chair of the board, added, “Once we have body cameras, the process will be even easier.”
Community outreach efforts continue
Mascari said when the Department of Public Safety transitioned to MUPD, there were concerns that the community outreach efforts would dwindle with the increased police capabilities. “We have actually maintained and strengthened the efforts.”
Mascari said members of MUPD completed 430 hours of service in 2016. This includes the new Coffee with a Cop series, where students got to sit down and talk to MUPD officers. They hope to expand Coffee With a Cop to include the larger community, not just students.
Getting more people on the MUPD alert system
Lowe raised questions about an initiative from the last meeting, one to make the MUPD alert system accessible to more people. There were reports of alleged shots fired a few weeks ago in an area where the residents are a mix of students and non-students. Lowe said, “It seems to me it was something community members need to know immediately.”
Mascari says the initiative is still in progress, and MUPD has started to distribute the safety alerts to local businesses in the area, such as the blood bank, so they can decide if the safety alert is pressing to them. “We’ve made a good first step by making sure larger employers in the area get the info.”
MUPD hired three new dispatchers in 2016, raising the total to 12.
Officer efficiency initiative
Mascari said MUPD plans to implement a new report management system that will go live in June. The system will eliminate issues that arise with too many messages clogging up their radio system, making responses slower.