John Tate II has been named as Madison’s first Independent Police Monitor.
The decision to go with Tate may finally put an end to the years-long process of attempting to hire an Independent Police Monitor. The city of Madison first created the position after the Black Lives Matter protests in 2020, along with the Police Civilian Oversight Board, who would be tasked with hiring the monitor.
The role of the Independent Police Monitor will carry some unique responsibilities and powers, like investigating complaints against police and subpoenaing records. The Independent Monitor will also recommend policy changes and engage with the community.
The oversight board had originally estimated that an Independent Monitor would be hired in October of last year. Instead, the board offered the position to Madison civil rights administrator Byron Bishop on December 16th of that year. Less than one month later, Bishop turned down the position after past workplace allegations were brought up against him.
And so the process had to once again start from the beginning. Almost four months after the position was opened, the city had narrowed it down to just four candidates. Last month, the oversight board held a candidate forum introducing those candidates to the community, giving the public less than a week to give their thoughts.
Shadayra Kilfoy-Flores is the chair of the oversight board. She says that she understands that people were frustrated that the process took as long as it did.
“It’s been a little difficult, (with) people asking what’s going on and not being able to give a firm answer has been kind of difficult. (It’s) taken a lot of time and energy and support from the community. I understand why we had to, not so much proceed with caution, but take things one step at a time. It’s been very important to make sure that everything is done properly. I’m just really glad that we’re able to move forward,” Kilfoy-Flores says.
Rachel Kincade, who also serves on the oversight board, says that it was important for them to do the job right, so that they could find the perfect candidate.
“Well, it took a long time, but this is really important. Considering that this is the first one in the state, we are still forging ground. Other state’s have them, not every state does. It is so important to get the right person in that place for it to be successful, so I’m hoping that, through this process that took this long, it was to find the right person who could do this job,” Kincade says.
Today, the civilian oversight board announced their pick: John Tate II. He’s the current president of the Racine City Council. Until recently, Tate was also the chair of the state’s parole commission. Tate left the position in June after a man who killed his wife in front of their children in the late 1990s was granted parole. Governor Evers later asked for his parole to be revoked, and asked for Tate’s resignation.
Tate just recently moved to Madison. During his public interview last month, Tate described why he saw the position of an Independent Monitor as valuable.
“In those roles, my objective has always been to identify the inequities and identify the systems and how we can shift those systems to better serve the populations that are within them. I’m taking the perspective of understanding people in their environment, both the macro and the micro of everything we experience, both the person and how they operate within the system,” Tate II says.
Tate’s hire will still need to be approved by the Madison Council. If he is approved, he would begin his role as Madison’s first Independent Police Monitor with an expected salary of $125,000.
Photo courtesy: Brian Standing / WORT Flickr