Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Madison Capitol Police Chief And His Harmful Law 'Enforcement' Strategies

Some Wisconsin media away from the scene are underplaying a story unfolding in Madison that is not merely a local matter there because it involves fundamental public policies and issues, including the operation of the State Capitol, exercise of First Amendment rights and probable outflow of taxpayer dollars as a result of questionable law enforcement tactics.

In a nutshell: The Walker administration, reacting to rightist and talk radio criticism that law enforcement had not been tough enough during Act 10 protests and continuing demonstrations, installed Dave Erwin, one of Walker's former security detail officials as the new Capitol Police chief - - and the new chief is having people ticketed for having held up a signs as small as a single sheet of loose leaf paper.

Erwin even counseled capitol employees who felt harassed by protesters to hit them - - a strange strategy from law enforcement leadership who are supposed to be in charge of maintaining the peace and enforcing the law in an atmosphere already stressed:

Erwin recently met with legislative aides who were feeling threatened or intimidated by protesters who have come into the aides' offices to berate them and have followed them to their cars. He suggested they try filming a demonstrator and, if that didn't work, punching the person with their free hand.
"I said if it wasn't working you could try to hit them," Erwin said.
Walker likes to play the tough guy - - remember his remark to the fake David Koch during the infamous 2011 prank call that he kept a baseball bat in his office - - but the new chief's actions are going to end up costing the state lawsuit settlements, or worse, getting someone hurt.

Time to replace ideology with smart policing and respect for the Constitution.


Ms. Wis./Each Little World said...

Chief Erwin has apparently also installed "panic buttons" under legislators' desks. And he is now telling a group of musicians that play off and on at the West Side Farmers' Market in Madison (in the parking lot of DOT) that they need a weekly permit. The group has been playing there a number of years without a permit. Story in today's Isthmus.

Anonymous said...

All it would take is a spate of first amendment lawsuits to bring this stupidity to a halt. Of course, defending stupidity in federal court isn't exactly the best use of taxpayer dollars.

Ron R said...

All it would take is a little civilized behavior from the protesters to stop this. Of course "civilized" and "liberal protestor" are mutually exclusive ideas.

MAL said...

Ron R,

It is fitting that you specify the political affiliation of the protesters, i.e. "liberal."

This is because Walker and Chief Erwin's lawless actions and policies are directed at pro-liberty, anti-Walker citizens of liberal political beliefs.

That you proceed in your comment to pair uncivilized behavior with liberal political beliefs is instructive; and to you apparentally holds no irony in our constitutional democracy.


Mike Leon
- mal contends

Betsey said...

The protests were civilized and non-violent. The protesters were acting on their rights as US and Wisconsin citizens. Ron R would be among the first to scream for his first amendment rights were the protesting shoes on the Libertarian or Tea Party feet.

This is what happens when you get all of your "information" from the right-wing propaganda machine.

Mal contends: Ron and friends live and operate in a free zone: irony-free, hypocrisy-free, compassion-free and fact-free.

George H. said...

Jim. I agree with everything except the blanket "underplay." This has been page one here at our (admittedly and sadly depleted) WSJ, and Judy at Isthmus has been all over it. Even the WSJ edit page (!) told Erwin to back off. The actions are flabbergasting, dumbfounding, brazen, you name it. I have never seen anything like it. And you're right, it needs attention.

James Rowen said...

George - - You are right. I should have said out-of-Madison media.