WPPA Statement on Behalf of Madison Officers Found Justified in High-Profile June Arrest at East Towne Mall

September 1, 2016

(MADISON, Wis.) – Following today’s announcement that Madison Police Officers Richard Friday and Andrew Muir acted appropriately in the June 21 arrest of Genele Laird, Jim Palmer, the executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA) and the officers’ attorney, issued the following statement:

“The extraordinary and exhaustive reviews conducted by three separate agencies have all independently determined that the actions of Officers Friday and Muir were appropriate under the circumstances and in accordance with the law, departmental policies, and state training standards governing the use of force.  While we are sensitive to those who have expressed concerns regarding this incident, and we respect their right to do so, we encourage anyone and everyone to read for themselves the expert analysis that has been posted on the Madison Police Department’s website. While nothing should foreclose a continuing public dialogue about law enforcement training and standards, it is clear that Officers Friday and Muir did exactly as they were trained and they were precisely within their lawful authority.

“Additionally, as demonstrated by the information also released today regarding the officers’ employment history, both officers have received numerous commendations and life-saving awards, and neither has ever been disciplined for their actions.  There should be no question as to Richard and Andrew’s dedication to serving this community responsibly and honorably.  This is evident not only through their service records, but in their decision to allow Ms. Laird’s criminal charges to be addressed through the restorative justice process.

“In the weeks since this highly-publicized incident took place, this has been a difficult time for many in the community. Richard and Andrew and their families have endured threats to their safety, public criticisms to which they have been unable to respond while the matter was under investigation, and unfounded insinuations regarding their character and their commitment to the people of Madison.

“We also appreciate that this incident has reignited the legitimate sensitivities of those that suffer from the systemic and historic racial inequities that exist within our society. While the documents released today ought to dismiss notions that the arrest of Ms. Laird has any place within the narrative that has been advanced in the national media, it is clear that much remains to be done to strengthen the relationship between law enforcement and the community it serves.

“For their part, Richard and Andrew have embraced the restorative justice process, not only to allow Ms. Laird to avoid the sustaining consequences of a criminal prosecution, but to help facilitate a sense of reconciliation that is needed in this community and the country at-large. Richard and Andrew have been actively participating in the Community Restorative Court process and have been impressed thus far with its potential to enable a broad-based dialogue on law enforcement practices and appropriate interactions between officers and the public – one that is informed by both the challenges that confront the dedicated men and women who risk their lives every day to keep us safe, and also by those within our community who feel disenfranchised and who have had negative experiences with the police.

“It must also be noted that Ms. Laird deserves credit for taking responsibility for her actions and for seeking a restorative outcome for herself, law enforcement, and the community. We are optimistic that, in the end, this event will mark a constructive turning point in our history toward a more meaningful bond between the officers who police our streets and all those who rely upon a city that is safe and secure. Officers Friday and Muir, Genele Laird, and everyone with the Dane County Restorative Court are working to ensure that Madison isn’t defined by the challenges that we face and the prevalent disparities that exist, but by the progressive efforts of many diverse voices to come together to bring about a genuine sense of healing and lasting positive change.”

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With nearly 10,000 members from almost 300 local association affiliates, the WPPA is Wisconsin’s largest law enforcement group.

 

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