Last Wednesday, Mayor Paul Soglin proposed a $332,000,000 operating budget for 2019. Nearly $77,000,000 of that money would go toward the Madison Police Department, but not all of Police Chief Michael Koval’s requests were included.
While Soglin’s budget meets Koval’s top priorities, it would not fund a data analyst position, which an MPD spokesperson says is essential for meeting city goals.
Despite proposed funding of nearly $77,000,000, Chief of Police Michael Koval hoped the police department would receive about $85,000 in 2019.
Koval requested that amount for a second data analyst to assist with data requests, but Mayor Paul Soglin’s proposed operating budget for next year does not include funding for that position.
Koval made the request in part to meet the needs of the City’s Performance Excellence initiative, which the Common Council announced last November.
Heather Allen, who served as the Common Council’s legislative analyst for six years before leaving this July, says the initiative emphasizes using data and results to create future budgets. “The purpose of the performance excellence initiative is really to help the city measure how well its doing in providing services to the public and in particular to look at whether its making the right investments in staff and how it uses resources to really bring the people the services they want.” She goes on to say that, “each department has to work with the elected officials and the mayoral staff team to identify what metrics they want to use to evaluate how well they are doing.”
Currently, the Madison Police Department’s Information Technology section consists of an information coordinator who oversees four information technology specialists.
As Assistant Police Chief Susan Williams notes, one of these specialists serves as the department’s only data analyst. “Internally, we use that person if we get requests from other city agencies, we use that person if we get requests from the public, we ask this individual to run the data analysis whether it’s someone who needs the information for a grant application or if it’s for the purpose of a public record requests, and those types of data requests have gone up about almost 30 percent in the last several years, and because of the complexity of technologies and the data we collect, it’s harder to gather all that information, so it’s time-consuming work for this one individual.”
Spokesperson for the mayor’s office Katie Crawley says Soglin isn’t opposed to the data analyst position, but the decision was made because of budget restraints.
If the council does not fund a second data analyst position in the 2019 budget, Williams sees the department reorganizing their priorities next year to stress the need for the position. “The desire for data and the desire to make decisions on outcome-based budgeting, or how to allocate city money is based on good data-related decisions. You need people to run the data and do the analysis for that to happen. That position, although listed as number four, is very important to us so we can continue to function and meet the needs of the community through that small lens of the many jobs we fulfill for our community.”
Although Soglin’s budget did not meet Koval’s lower-priority requests for additional officers and a data analyst, it did include the department’s top priority of expanding the Special Victims Unit.
The Finance Committee will consider Soglin’s proposed budget later this month, and the council will make its final decisions in mid-November. No members of the finance committee responded to a request for comment on whether or not they are considering adding the data analyst position to the budget.