The Sun Prairie Police Department is in the process of taking citizen comments and suggestions on how to operate in the future. I have been giving it some thought as more citizen-versus-police problematic encounters are occurring. As I think about it, they have always been occurring but never came to light in the general population.
My first suggestion would be to demilitarize the image of the police force, starting with the Chief, who should be dressed in business casual civilian clothes without the four star gold collar devices. A pocket holder with a gold badge and the title CHIEF could be used as identification. The pistol should be concealed in most cases.
Patrol uniforms are getting a bit GI for my taste and probably need evaluation. The rank devices for captain, lieutenant, sergeant, etc., should probably be retained.
Police weaponry needs to be re-evaluated. Patrol officer pistols should be loaded with six rounds maximum, with a spare magazine fully loaded, if needed. Training should discourage firing more than two rounds at a time.
Rifles are to be carried in sergeant vehicles only. Patrol officer vehicles should be provided with shotguns.
Regarding patrol: traffic control needs to become a priority because STOP signs are being ignored and speeding is getting worse. During drive time on busy streets (Bird Street, for example) when traffic travels at more than 10 miles per hour in excess of the speed limit, there is essentially no interval for cross traffic to merge (there is very little speeding in Cottage Grove).
There needs to be a full-time traffic assignment. It has been attempted in other localities and has paid for itself. Also, traffic enforcement tends to prevent crime.
There should also be more foot patrol. Nothing says “we’re on the job” like stepping out of the dark to mingle with citizens — one officer, weekly, would be helpful.