Thank Chief Koval For His Service

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Chief Koval touched a lot of lives and is deeply loved in this city. His retirement has left a gaping wound that will take time to heal.

I know many of you would have welcomed the opportunity to thank him, in-person, for his service - but he doesn't want a party. Believe me, I tried, because I think it would have allowed for closure not only for the Chief, but for his officers and those of us who love him. But we need to respect his wishes.

The next best thing I could think of is an online petition that the public can sign. So please, take a moment to share your thoughts below and wish him well during retirement, and I'll make sure the Chief and his family sees it.

I'd like to get this done ASAP, so please spread the word when you can. 

Note that hateful comments will be deleted. 

Best,

--Paula Fitzsimmons

Here are my thoughts about Chief Koval. And yes, he will always be the Chief in my eyes.

True leaders, the kind who possess that rare combination of skill, passion, and integrity are in short supply these days. So when you meet someone like Mike Koval, you realize that you’ve been given a precious gift that should never be taken for granted.

Nobody has worked as hard or has been as dedicated to Madison than Chief Koval has. Clocking in an average of 70 to 80 most weeks, he essentially sacrificed his personal life, including irreplaceable time with his family.

While the rest of us were tucked safely away in our homes, he was doggedly fighting a crime presence that has increased in number and complexity. He’s responsible for hiring and training most of the city’s cops, and has grown a department that’s arguably the finest in the nation.

Mike Koval isn’t just a skilled law officer, but a genuinely good human being. We watched as he wept with grieving family members, comforted victims of heinous attacks, exuded warmth for his constituents, and served as a father figure for his officers.

He was an innovator who went out of his way to embrace Madison’s diverse communities and foster strong community-police relations, enabling many of us to forge a close relationship with the department.

One thing the Chief is not, is a politician. He’s always spoken passionately, yet truthfully, careful not to  insult our collective intelligence by dumbing down the conversation or using political double-speak. And in an environment where hostility towards police officers has become epidemic, a weak Chief would likely have been more inclined to sacrifice his cops to the altar of political correctness. Instead, he doubled down on their defense.

It’s these same qualities that made him a favorite target of people’s misplaced rage, however. Local politicians, community members, and even members of the media treated him with what I can only describe as contempt. Citizens would harass and scream at him. The City refused to stand united with him and the Department against relentless and unfair attacks. Alders would set up roadblocks for him, especially at budget time, and they’d use their bully pulpit to try to publicly humiliate him. Politicians and citizens accused him of outrageous things, like taking advantage of heinous criminal acts to lobby for more cops. Members of the community tried to get him fired by filing frivolous charges that resulted in more than $21 thousand dollars in out-of-pocket legal fees. Despite all this, the Chief remained dedicated and focused.

It’s not just the loss of an exceptional leader we should all mourn. The future of policing in Madison is at risk, and finding someone like Mike Koval to lead the department will be a tough sell. If the next Chief is one who easily succumbs to the whims of local politicians and public sentiment, I suspect the results will be devastating: lowered police recruitment, retention, and department morale, which in turn puts all of us at risk.

If, however, this person can exhibit even a percentage of Mike Koval’s abilities and character, we might just have a fighting chance.



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