The Monona Police Department is undergoing a complete overhaul of its policies, working with a consultant to update more than 200 policies.
Monona police chief Brian Chaney said in an interview the department has a target date of the end of this year to complete the updated policies. Among the 200-plus policies are seven key policies that must be reviewed and approved by the public safety committee and the full city council.
The seven policies span a variety of areas, including police K-9s, personnel complaints, body-worn cameras, in-car cameras, rendering medical aid, use of force and vehicle pursuits. The police K-9 policy and the personnel complaint policy were both unanimously passed at the council’s June 20 meeting.
New Complaint Policy
Chaney said the focus of the personnel complaint policy is to make it easier for citizens to file a complaint and to make it clear to department staff how complaints are handled.
“I think what this new policy does very well is it’s really easy to read and it’s really a clear and concise step-by-step process into what’s involved in making a complaint and what’s required of staff when receiving complaints,” Chaney said at the meeting.
Included in the personnel complaint policy is a step-by-step guide of how citizens or department staff can file complaints, which may be done either in person at the police station or on the department’s website.
Complaints include any allegation of misconduct or improper job performance that would constitute a violation of department policy or of federal, state or local laws, according to the policy text.
The policy says that complaints, from either citizens or other members of the department, could be investigated by a supervisor or department administrators, and lead to a couple different outcomes.
In certain circumstances, members may be placed on administrative leave or put into a criminal investigation, the policy said. Additionally, the police chief must review the recommendation and all accompanying materials before the investigation is closed, according to the policy.
Employees are also given the opportunity to present a written or oral response, a resignation or a retirement to the police chief before discipline if they choose. Lastly, a non-probationary employee may have the right to appeal the disciplinary action, the policy states.
Lexipol AgreementThe policy overhaul is being completed with help from a law enforcement policy management and consulting firm, Lexipol. After a meeting between Chaney and Fire Chief Jeremy McMullen, the two realized that both departments struggle with policy management and implementation.
The meeting led to a resolution that was presented and approved at the Jan. 18 city council meeting allowing for the use of $144,622 of the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds over the next five years for Lexipol’s services between the two departments.
Lexipol’s focus is providing recommendations for enforcement policies that are within best practice and in compliance with state and federal statutes, Chaney said.
“That’s their (Lexipol) whole job, is to make sure that everything is in compliance with case laws that change, which can happen frequently,” Chaney said. “There are lawsuits that don’t necessarily mandate the change, but it certainly changes the conversation with respect to best practice.”
In addition to updating the policies, Lexipol is helping the department make the policy and procedural manual available online, making it more user-friendly for both the public and department staff. While the manual isn’t yet available, Chaney said he expects it to be available once all of the new policies are completed and implemented.
“Everything in the policy and procedural manual will be searchable online, making it more user-friendly,” Chaney said. “Not only was I thinking in terms of public access to this information, but also internally to make sure our staff could easily reference, look up, follow and have access to these policies.”
While most of the 200-plus policies are administrative, seven policies have to be reviewed and approved by the public safety committee and the city council, due to the fallout of a case often referred to as the “Arrowhead incident” or the “Keonte Furdge incident” from 2020.
That case involved a settlement out of court after two officers entered Furdge’s residence without a search warrant, leading to Furdge filing a lawsuit citing “bodily injury, pain, suffering, mental distress, humiliation, loss of liberty and incurred expenses.”
The Furdge case led to certain policies requiring approval from the public safety committee and the city council, for increased oversight. However, Chaney said the majority of the other 200-plus policies Lexipol is helping update and work on are administrative, and won’t be weighed in on by city council.
Chaney explained that the purpose of Lexipol is to help create sound policy for police departments across the country, so he believes Monona government officials and residents should trust that the consultant’s recommendations are what’s best for the city.
“The point I’d like to make is that we’ve already invested in a company that has done tons of research into what is the most sound policy for police departments and what will fit your police department,” Chaney said. “It’s okay to put a Monona twist on things, but to make any substantial changes to what they’re recommending is, in my opinion, sort of a waste of money.”
Since the contract with Lexipol spans five years and the department is aiming to complete the policy updates and implementation phase of the project by the end of 2022, in which old policies will be replaced. Chaney said the rest of the contract would be spent with Lexipol checking on best practices and making adjustments based on new court rulings.