Monthly Archives: August 2013

Chief seeks greater transparency for Janesville Police Department

Here is the latest Discover Janesville column published in Janesville Messenger on Sunday, August 25, 2013.

Janesville Police Chief David Moore looks for more opportunities for transparency like few other people in the public eye I ever met.

When we recently sat down for a conversation about how Janesville police officers do their job, the chief’s deep understanding of the role that the police department plays in the community and his commitment to making Janesville safer while maintaining respect for the rights of residents, was clearly on display and is deeply admirable.

He noted the authority and the responsibility that police officers have to the community.  Parallel with that, Moore understands that citizens can’t choose their law enforcement agency.  In law enforcement, we get only only choice, and the Janesville Police Department does not take this issue lightly.

Police work also is different from any other job, because it has a good and positive mission of protecting this community while frequently using methods that are negative in nature – issuing citations, stopping people, making arrests and sometimes even using deadly force.

With that comes additional responsibility and accountability, which is enforced by Moore through proper policy procedure, leadership, training and supervision.

As a part of that, when a citizen sees a police officer doing something that they are concerned about, they are encouraged to call police at (608) 755-3055 and contact a shift supervisor, lieutenant, deputy chiefs or Moore directly.

“On occasion,” Moore said, “our officers make mistakes.  We will take corrective actions to see that these don’t occur again.  If it’s repeated, and if it’s a problem officer, we’re not shy about using discipline to make sure that it doesn’t occur again.”

Moore said that while “these things occur,” he really needs thte public’s help, and people need to feel comfortable about contacting police about their concerns.

One area that residents have expressed concerns is about the rules and regulations that govern how police officers obey traffic laws.

In general, Moore said, if an officer exceeds the speed limit, they need to have audible and visual signs.

There are times when an officer may not use a siren or flashing lights, if, for example, there is a burglary in progress or an assault of a serious nature, because they don’t want to let a criminal know that they are about to arrive at the scene.

But in all other instances, they are required to follow traffic laws.

Bringing more clarity and transparency to law enforcement is the reason behind adding wearable cameras.  The video shows the scene from the officer’s perspective and has been useful in addressing citizens’ concerns while protecting officers.

“It really takes away the officer’s version and the citizen’s version of what happened, because we can just bring it up and we see what really happened,” Moore said.

According to Moore, some officers were reluctant to wear the cameras t first, but once they saw the value of collecting evidence, and especially when citizen complaints come in, officers who didn’t have cameras started to ask for them.

So, how can residents be sure that they will not suffer any retribution for reporting a police officer?

Moore said that he is not aware that that ever happened, and added, “That issue would rest on my promise to this community that this will not happen.”

Per department policy, there are times when corrective action needs to be taken, other times it does not, Moore said.  But there always is an investigation on a complaint, and the citizen is told about the outcome of the investigation.

Next month: Part 2 of my conversation with janesville Police Chief David Moore, including his thoughts on the concealed carry law, his greatest challenge since becoming Janesville’s chief of police and the reasons behind the Do Not Serve list distributed to Janesville bars.

Spotlight on Janesville Gazette: The new website

When the granddaddy of all Janesville media, Janesville Gazette, finally unveiled its much anticipated redesigned website, the reaction was mixed to put it mildly.  A news outlet, which most people considered to be the authority on local news, after much debate, chose to put up a “paywall” prohibiting free viewing of most of its content, safe for “community blogs”.  Shortly after its launch, obituaries were allowed to be viewed once again for free, and every now and then, a story will sneak through.

Earlier today, I spoke with the man behind the overhaul – Lon Haenel – Circulation & Digital Media Director at The Gazette, because I wanted to learn his side of the story.  I wanted to understand how the decision about the redesign and the introduction of the pay-to-read approach was made, and how will the people inside the organization determine if this overhaul was a success.  Be in the know. Discover Janesville.

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Discover Janesville in Janesville Messenger: CREATIVE VISION

Read this column in Janesville Messenger on August 11.

As the economy continues to recover, question remains: what is Janesville’s future and how do we get there?

Two local organizations decided to address this question by forming a partnership for a project called “CREATIVE VISION: Sustaining Arts in Rock County”.  United Arts Alliance, an umbrella organization of local arts and theater groups, arts-related businesses and individual artists, whose members are determined to support creativity in Rock County, partnered with Janesville Performing Arts Center, which serves as the home to many of the performing organizations in Janesville area.  The two organizations came together in order to look at the future of our community through the lens of arts and creativity. To do that, UAA and JPAC are holding a series of lectures and workshops over the next year designed to help foster awareness of the value that arts and creativity bring to our community.

Whether in terms of quality of life or economic development, people want to live, and businesses want to locate in communities that offer its residents more amenities then a decent selection of eating establishments.  Janesville and Rock County are home to many creative people, a variety of theater groups, music bands, artists of every sort – from tattoo to culinary – yet a cohesive vision for the arts is lacking.

To help develop a vision for the arts in our community, and to help arts organizations and artists understand how we can more effectively work together, UAA and JPAC are hosting a series of speakers and workshops.  The first workshop in the CREATIVE VISION series was held at JPAC on July 18th and featured Waunakee village administrator and economic development director, Todd Schmidt.  Todd spoke about the importance of creativity to economic development and the identity of the community.  The centerpiece of Todd’s presentation was the Imagination Celebration, which took place for the first time in Waunakee last year.  Local residents were invited to display but not sell their creative creations.  Not only did this showcase of local talent bring out large number of attendees, but according to Todd, local entrepreneurs inspired by their experience at the Imagination Celebration are opening new businesses in Waunakee.

Arts and creativity generating economic impact on our local economy is the other goal of the partnership between UAA and JPAC.  To begin the conversation about Creative Economy, a community in which everyone supports the creative industries for economic development.  Traditionally, industries included in the definition of Creative Economy include advertising, architecture, art, crafts, design, fashion, film, music, performing arts, publishing, R&D, software, toys and games, TV and radio, and video games although some consider education industry to be also included in this list.  One does not have to go far to find examples of economic impact generated from arts and creativity.  For over 50 years, arts and artists have been thriving at the Tallman Arts Festival, helping both our local economy and the image of our community.  Other examples of creativity making local economic impact include the upcoming Irish Fest, Arts Infusion Along the Janesville Mile, Janesville Area Creativity (JAC) awards and other events and festivals, including the many extremely imaginative and creative fundraisers held by our local non-profits.

Over the next year, there will be three more presentations in the CREATIVE VISION series, one featuring Executive Director of Arts Wisconsin Anne Katz and another one featuring Michael Goldberg, most recently Executive Director at Coronado Performing Arts Center in Rockford.  The final presentation will be determined by the audience input at the preceding events.

The next event in the CREATIVE VISION series, will be the strategic planning session , which will be held at the next UAA meeting at JPAC, on Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 8 am.  All members of community, but especially those involved or interested in arts are invited to attend.

For more information about the CREATIVE VISION series, JPAC and UAA, please check out www.RockCountyArts.com and www.janesvillepac.org