Thu May 17, 2012
Former Madison police chief publishes book
A retired Wisconsin police chief who became a minister says modern law enforcement in the U.S. isn't progressing. David Couper wants to start a national conversation on how to get departments to change for the better.
David Couper was Madison's police chief from 1972 to 1993. He was known for community policing and hiring women and minorities. He retired from the force and became a minister but is still interested in law enforcement. Couper's written a book called Arrested Development. The former police chief says obstacles that prevent departments from moving forward include corruption, and anti-intellectualism. He notes that only 1 percent of the police departments in the U.S. require officers to have a four year college degree, "But it goes much deeper and that is whether or not research is welcome whether social research has any application to police work."
In a speech to the Madison Downtown Rotary, Couper also addressed disparities in arrests and convictions. He said the so-called war on drugs may explain some of the gap, but he also points to lack of academic achievement among blacks, "I think it is a major issue in this community. It was 25 years ago when I took the school district's own statistics and said 'what's going on here?' and a lot of people said, 'that's none of your business Couper' and I said 'yes it is because officers are having to deal with what doesn't work in our school system.' "
As for Wisconsin's new conceal-carry law, Couper says it makes the job of a police officer all the more difficult.