The City of Sun Prairie, Sun Prairie Police Department, and Sun Prairie Area School District issued a joint statement about the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis Police Department officer:
The death of George Floyd continues to haunt us. Anyone who watched that painful video will never forget it. If this is what happens in 2020 with the abundance of technology, imagine what has, and does continue, to happen when the phones and cameras are not recording. Change is needed. And it is needed now.
As leaders within Sun Prairie, we are united in working collaboratively to ensure the City of Sun Prairie and our schools are safe, inclusive, welcoming, and loving. Here are specific actions the City, Police Department, and School District are taking:
City of Sun Prairie
This is a time to listen to our communities of color like we never have before. By listening in a way that honors their time, priorities, networks and wisdom we will find innovative and authentic solutions to these centuries-old problems. This will be accompanied by our commitment to call out and dismantle systemic racism in our organization.
Our work to make Sun Prairie an inclusive, welcoming and safe place for all is an established and continuous commitment. The “Sun Prairie Plan to Restore the Right to Breathe” will span June, capitalizing on this catalyzing moment, and providing needed healing and dialogue space.
Sun Prairie Plan to Restore the Right to Breathe:
• No Stupid Questions Quorum, June 23, 6-7:30 p.m. — An ally workshop, dissecting systemic racism and providing space for uncomfortable questions.
• Community Self-Policing talk through, Ongoing — Working with communities to understand capacity and opportunities to empower community members in managing their own communities.
• Juneteenth Celebration, June 15-19 — A virtual weeklong celebration of Juneteenth in collaboration with community schools. Juneteenth is the celebration of the emancipation proclamation that ended American slavery.
• Restorative Dinner, June 25, 6-7:30 p.m. — A dinnertime music show interspersed with community discussion questions to bring the community together around solidarity and action moving forward.
• Launch of Equity Academy, Shortly after July 4 — An internal continuous training and personal reflection space for city staff that residents will be able to follow along with for their own personal development around equity
The Sun Prairie Plan to Restore the Right to Breathe: Changing unjust systems, bringing together disparate dialogues and giving space for healing will be available for viewing on KSUN.
All information as it is updated will be found at cityofsunprairie.com/civicsunprairie.
Sun Prairie’s efforts in this space are ongoing and those hoping to see all of Sun Prairie’s diversity, equity and inclusion work can do so here.
Here you’ll see the full gamut of our work to make our community inclusive and welcoming including our celebration of our diverse community through our multicultural fair that debuted last year, our diversity, equity and inclusion commitment statement used as a guide for our policy and practices, and how we have adjusted our hiring practices to take bias out of our processes among other efforts.
We are also currently in the process of auditing our internal policies and practice to better reflect our value of equity to better serve the public and create a culture where a diverse workforce thrives.
Sun Prairie Police Department
The Sun Prairie Police Department (SPPD) will participate and assist with all of the items listed in the citywide bullet points above including our Sun Prairie Restore the Right to Breathe initiatives.
• The Sun Prairie Police Department has been, and will continue to be focused on staff development including topics of diversity, inclusion, equity, procedural justice, and human bias. Numerous training programs have been provided to all employees during the past three years.
In addition to regular in-service training, we intend to incorporate this training into roll call sessions and career development programs for all members of our department.
• We will continue to ensure that all training envelops the sanctity of human life at the heart of everything our agency provides, including promptly rendering first aid. This includes our historical belief that every officer has a duty to intervene to prevent excessive force or any behavior outside our code of conduct and policing philosophy.
• The SPPD has two certified instructors that teach the Police Executive Research Forum’s de-escalation program that teaches officers to use distance, cover, time and verbalization skills in crisis situations.
This program includes lecture-based interactive training and scenario based training to place our officers into stressful situations to anchor the training modules.
• In addition to in-squad video, the Sun Prairie Police Department incorporated body-worn cameras in 2018 and conducts regular auditing and use of force reviews to insure professionalism and accountability.
• We intend to continue our citizen’s police academy, youth leadership academies and plan to create and participate in community events within our diverse neighborhoods.
• We believe it is important to hear from all of our diverse communities and will be planning inclusive community meetings organized in conjunction with community leaders such as the African American Parent Network and church groups. The goal of these meetings will be to act as listening sessions to learn and educate ourselves on steps the police department can take to better educate all of our sworn and non-sworn members.
• We will also continue to monitor and implement best practices to provide safety for everyone, such as the #8CantWait program. Our police department policy, training and philosophy aligns with all eight of the following recommendations. The eight recommended policies can increase safety and include:
• Bans on chokeholds and strangleholds;
• Mandatory de-escalation training;
• Require a warning prior to firing a weapon;
• Requirement to exhaust all alternatives before shooting;
• Requiring a duty to intervene;
• Ban shooting at moving vehicles;
• Require a use of force continuum;
• Require comprehensive use of force reporting.
• The SPPD is committed to constant improvement and ensuring that our use of force policies and training reflect national best practices and the values and philosophy of our community. We look forward to using multiple avenues to listen to our citizens and incorporate any changes that can enhance the safety of everyone in our community and grow our relationships.
Sun Prairie Area School District
The Sun Prairie Area School District (SPASD) has created The Sun Prairie Equity Framework to locate and dismantle policies, procedures, and behaviors that are racist and/or discriminatory.
Components of this framework include a Community-Based Vision, Board Governance focused on equity, a Strategic Approach to equity, Site Excellence, and Community Partnerships.
• The SPASD has been and will continue to be focused on staff development as a key area of focus in our equity work: Over 100 separate opportunities for equity focused staff development have been offered to staff over the last three years, and over 1,000 teachers, administrators, and staff have taken part in equity focused staff development.
• We believe that SPASD should reflect the cultures of our diverse community. Our district staff are currently comprised of nearly 15% staff members of color, and our internal Grow Your Own program continues to support future educators of color.
• The SPASD has adopted the Teaching Tolerance Social Justice Standards which are embedded into K-12 Social Studies curriculum.
• All schools have specific teams of educators called Equity Teams trained in locating and dismantling policies, procedures, and behaviors that are racist and/or discriminatory.
• The SPASD and City of Sun Prairie partnership for Sun Prairie Community Schools continues to grow. Northside Elementary School was recently approved as a Community Schools site.
We are proud to call Sun Prairie our home but we know we all have work to do to make this community more safe, inclusive, welcoming, and loving. You have our commitment that we will work hard every day doing just that.
The statement is signed by:
Paul Esser, Mayor
Aaron Oppenheimer, City Administrator
Mary Polenske, City Council President
Mike Steffes, Chief of Police
Brad Saron, SPASD Superintendent
Steve Schroeder, Sun Prairie School Board President