DeForest Area Progressives (DeForest Area Action Team?)
Meeting notes for October 5, 2015
Next meeting: Monday, October 12, 2015, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Ginny’s, 3922 Partridge Road, Windsor Hill neighborhood.
We had ELEVEN people at our October 5th meeting! Great!
The whole meeting was devoted to a conversation with our special guest, Chief Bob Henze of the DeForest Police Department. Ginny had suggested such a meeting after hearing praise for meeting with the local chief of police from GROW in Waunakee.
The conversation began with a discussion of officers’ relationships with youth in the village. There was skepticism about some officers’ unnecessarily hassling teens, especially teenage boys. Chief Henze responded by describing the duties and activities of the DeForest officer assigned to liaison with the DeForest Area School District (DASD). The discussion quickly turned to school shootings much in the news lately. The recent threat in the DASD was handled according to plans that have been in effect for some time and worked exactly the way those plans are supposed to work. Violence was averted. Chief Henze went into some detail about it.
There was much interest in weapons and firearms and concealed carry of weapons. The related issue of mental illness and the difficulties encountered by police when they see mentally ill people in crisis was brought up. Chief Henze noted that the mental health facilities in Madison where officers used to be able to take mentally ill people were closed, and now officers must transport those in need of services all the way to Winnebago Mental Health in Oshkosh. With all of the talk about preventing violence by paying more attention to mental illness and how it is dealt with, one thing that could be done is to create more mental health services and facilities. That approach, of course, costs a lot of money. A related issue is that police seem to be seeing more violence in younger aged children these days. School social workers are another trend.
Chief Henze said that the Village of DeForest has been very generous in staffing, training, and equipping DeForest’s police services. DeForest is mostly a safe place. Other points brought up in the wide-ranging mutual conversation included these:
· One of the most important law enforcement and social problems in DeForest is drugs at parties.
· Crimes ancillary to drug abuse in DeForest such as theft are not as great a problem as they used to be.
· Thefts from vehicles can be prevented by locking cars when drivers are away from them. Chief Henze said that as long as he has been in DeForest (ten years) there has never been a theft from a locked vehicle.
· DeForest is a safe place generally. Crimes committed by strangers in the village are not very common. Most crimes are committed by people who know one another.
· “If you see something, say something:” is a good rule of thumb to follow. Know your neighbors. Organize block parties. Take care of one another.
· The DeForest Citizens’ Police Academy is a success and a good way to get to know police and what they do. Go to the department’s website to learn more about it and many other things about the DeForest PD.
· The DeForest PD is responding to recent racial concerns in Madison by first of all recognizing the “implicit bias” that exists in us all, including police officers.
· The “militarization” of police noticed by some around the country is often a mis-characterization of what police are doing in rare, abnormal situations of high stress, when military type tactics become necessary.
· Other topics discussed included drones, mutual aid among police departments, drunk driving enforcement, racial interaction, and gangs.
· John St. asked about the “Officers of the Peace” program, which Chief Henze was not aware of.
We DeForest Area Progressives thank Chief Henze for a pleasant and enlightening two hours of conversation.