Madison Police builds bridges with community during National Nig - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Madison Police builds bridges with community during National Night Out

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Madison Police talking with community members during National Night Out at Leopold Park Madison Police talking with community members during National Night Out at Leopold Park

MADISON (WKOW) --- Police Chief Mike Koval has continually stressed the importance community members have in stopping the violence, which includes working with police.

Some of that relationship-building happened Thursday night during National Night Out. It's part of the nation-wide effort to improve the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve.

"This is a night where you sort of underscore that partnership between community and cop," said Madison Police Chief Mike Koval.

Mattie Yoakum brought her grandchildren to the event at Leopold Park because she said she doesn't want them to grow up fearing police.

"When it comes to a child, they not going to have no mean to have anything to fear with cops," she said.

Madison has since an increase in gun violence this year. The city has already seen a record 10 homicides and 125 reports of shots fired. So It's fitting the theme for this year's event is "A Call For Peace."

Koval said part of obtaining that peace is getting the bad guys off the street. He is taking a new strategy to try to stop the gun violence.

Koval said he's putting more officers on the streets to find the four or five dozen known criminals who seem to be connected in some way to every shooting in Madison. He said they'll track down the worst offenders -- many of whom are gang members with warrants for various crimes.

"What we've done is we've identified this week about three dozen individuals who I consider to be high profile targets because there are outstanding warrants."

But he said they can't do it alone. Koval wants more involvement from the community in helping solve crimes.

“You can only solve so many crimes through technology or forensics. You still need human capital. You need people that are willing to work with us."

“And if it get to a point where we can't go outside with our children, we're all in danger,” Yoakum said.

Koval acknowledges that some in the community will see his initiative as targeting people of color. He says the arrests will not be a pretext to any type of racial profiling.

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