Dear All -
Our alders need your support.
Did you know, for a civilian to have a chance of successfully filing a complaint with the police and fire commission it would cost them between $30,000 and $60,000? The Council has introduced new ordinance to make the PFC process accessible to all people by reimbursing legal fees for those who file successful complaints and It isn’t too late to help them. Please write your alder as soon as possible.
Chief Koval, Dan Frei (Madison Police Union President) and Alder Skidmore are misrepresenting this proposed ordinance as one that would allow the council to veto PFC decisions (not possible under current state law) and would encourage people to file frivolous complaints with the PFC and therefore deter officers from applying to MPD. This accusation is, once again, absurd. Currently, it costs a civilian anywhere from $30,000-$60,000 in attorney’s fees to go through the whole PFC process. Under the proposed legislation, if their complaint is dismissed, they pay their attorney fees. Does Chief Koval really think someone is going to assume that financial risk with a frivolous complaint? And any officer that would not apply to MPD for fear of being held accountable or because it upsets them that a civilian with a legitimate complaint would be reimbursed their attorney fees isn’t a cop we want in the first place.
In reality, this proposed ordinance would make the PFC accessible to people who have legitimate complaints. It's still a big risk for the civilian but the policy makes the process a bit more fair. Additionally, this policy just reaffirms the council’s statutory power to use their discretion on reimbursing a police or fire chief. If the chief is found to have committed a violation as charged in a PFC complaint, the council may use their discretion on whether or not to reimburse attorney fees for that charge. They already have this statutory power but they are wanting to add it the city rules.
Can you help support the council in passing this ordinance?
Goal: Make filing a legitimate complaint with the Police and Fire Commission affordable and accessible to all people.
Please make the PFC process accessible to people of all means and support the ordinance put forth by sponsors Shiva Bidar-Sielaff, Maurice S. Cheeks, Denise DeMarb, Rebecca Kemble, Larry Palm, Matthew J. Phair, Marsha A. Rummel, Ledell Zellers that includes:
1. Reimbursement of legal fees for civilians who successfully file a police and fire commission complaint against an officer.
2. Reimbursement of city employees who successfully defend themselves against a complaint and by successful we mean he or she is fully exonerated, if the charges are dismissed (for any reason), or if the complaint is otherwise withdrawn or discontinued.
3. If the City employee or official is successful as defined herein, but the PFC found some violation of a legal standard (such as a code of conduct) by the City employee or official, the Council may make a reasonable adjustment in the reimbursement for such findings.
4. Similarly, if the employee or official is successful on some charges but not others, the Council may make a reasonable adjustment in the fees and costs to be reimbursed.
Please include and vote in favor of these proposals/observations as well:
5. Court Actions. This ordinance does not apply to any proceedings in court, reimbursement for which will continue to be considered under existing state law and any agreements with employee associations. If a court reverses or modifies any ruling of the PFC, the Council may consider such a decision in determining whether to reimburse for all proceedings before the PFC.
6. Request for Reimbursement. A separate resolution shall be introduced upon the conclusion of matters before the PFC, providing for reimbursement for any person under this ordinance. The separate resolution is needed to determine if the person qualifies under this ordinance and to appropriate the funds for reimbursement.
7. Authority. This ordinance is adopted pursuant to the authority granted under Wis. Stats. §§ 62.09(7)(e), 62.11(5) and 895.35. The Council is determining that it will reimburse under the circumstances set forth in this ordinance. In all circumstances not covered by this ordinance, the Council retains the rights to reimburse or not reimburse as provided by state law.”
Section 6.18 entitled “Reimbursement of Legal Fees Before the Police and Fire Commission” of the Madison General Ordinances is created to read as follows:
• The Fire Department employees including the Fire Chief are covered by the reimbursement standards of Sec. 5.15, MGO.”
• Resolution RES-16-00697 (Legistar # 44195), the City of Madison Police and Fire Chiefs Reimbursement Policy, is hereby repealed.