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Sunday, January 25, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 25.0° F  Mostly Cloudy and Breezy
The Daily
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Mike Koval, hired as new Madison police chief, set a progressive tone as department's recruiter
Koval served as the MPD's personnel and training recruiter.
Credit:Timothy Hughes

On April 11, the Madison Police and Fire Commission chose Sgt. Mike Koval as Madison's next police chief, succeeding Noble Wray.

Koval, who was one of two internal candidates selected as finalists for the position, has a long history with the Madison Police Department as its personnel and training recruiter. Josh Wimmer wrote about his unique approach to the job and his unconventional background in a 2009 Isthmus cover story. The profile sheds light on the Koval's commitment to a diverse police force, as well as his progressive approach to citizens' constitutional rights, as inspired by longtime Chief David Couper, who transformed the MPD during his tenure from 1972-1993.

"If you look at the nationwide method of policing, specifically as it pertains to the teaching of the law to recruits," Koval was quoted as saying, "the trend seems to be, 'Here's how we can push the envelope, and push it hard and fast' -- to get the incriminating statement into evidence, or to make the traffic stop and the arrest. Our approach certainly doesn't minimize the powers our officers have, but it gives equal or greater emphasis to constitutional limitations."

Koval was a finalist for the chief's position in the previous selection round for the position, in 2004, when Wray was ultimately hired. In 2009, when the cover story was published, Koval suggested that he would be retiring within five fears. Instead, he threw his hat into the ring again for the top job in the department.

"I believe that I'm probably viewed by some recruits as this sort of ACLU, tree-hugging guy who has to be endured for six months," said Koval about his position with the academy. "And I've come to accept that."

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