In Madison, we see the highest rates of gun and sexual violence in the downtown (isthmus) area. The Isthmus Safety Initiative (ISI) is a program toMap of Madison's Isthmus with blue boundary lines drawn prevent violent crime. Led by an advisory council, the program will create and carry out a plan to prevent gun and sexual violence downtown.

Isthmus Safety Initiative Request for Proposal

The Isthmus Safety Initiative (ISI) Request for Proposal (RFP) has been closed. Details on the RFP can be found under Funding Opportunities on the City of Madison website. 

About the Isthmus Safety Initiative

This initiative is a two year grant from the Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program (BCJI). It is run by the City of Madison’s Community Development Division. The initiative focuses on Madison’s isthmus, from Park Street to the Yahara River and runs until 2023.

BCJI gives support to programs that use data to reduce violence in hot spots, to improve the community. The advisory council used violence data from the isthmus to choose the focus of this program. They chose gun and sexual violence. Our Violence Prevention Unit coordinates this initiative. We work to understand the data to deal with crime downtown. We also work together with other organizations and people who live downtown to create change that will last.

A group effort to reduce violence

Similar to our public health approach to violence, this grant follows a model to make sure that efforts to reduce crime last. These efforts requires a group effort and includes the criminal justice system, service agencies, and community members.

The model has four parts.

  1. Place-based strategy: Target violence where it happens. Use strategies specific to the neighborhood to increase the impact of reducing violence.
  2. Community Engagement: Increase community involvement in creating change that lasts.
  3. Data and evidence driven: Use data and research to guide strategy.
  4. Build Partnerships and Enhance Trust: Create strong relationships between program partners. Build trust between program partners and the community, especially between police and the community.

Work is happening in a two-stage process

We are currently in stage one.

Stage One: Creating an Action Plan

  • Identify crime hot spots
  • Select crimes to address
  • Figure out what is driving crimes
  • Work with the community to create a plan to make change

Our community-based advisory council decides which crimes to focus on, what is driving crime, and actions to take, based on data. The University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute (UWPHI) facilitates development of the Action Plan. The Action Plan is submitted to the BJA for approval.

Stage Two: Putting the plan into action

Community partners put the plan into action Community and program partners keep working together in order to make changes last.

Advisory Council

Our Advisory Council is made up of partners, business owners, and community members. Members of the Advisory Council:

  • Adrian Lampron (ASM Student Government Chair)
  • Ald. Mike Verveer (Madison Common Council)
  • Ald. Patrick Heck (Madison Common Council)
  • Amaya Boman (ACLU Student Alliance)
  • Anthony Cooper (Nehemiah)
  • Brad Schlag (Friends of State Street Family)
  • Chris Kolakowski (Veteran's Museum)
  • Christina Olstad (UW Dean's Office)
  • Clark Brunner (Dayshift Patrol Lieutenant for UWPD)
  • Cleo Yothsackdale (CANA)
  • Dana Pellebon (Rape Crisis Center)
  • Ellie Westman Chin (GMVCB)
  • Gloria Reyes (Briarpatch, Inc.)
  • Heather Crowley (Supervisor at the Neighborhood Intervention Program)
  • Hiro Ura Castro (Student in FSL)
  • Jim Powell (MPD)
  • Jonathan Zarov (Madison Children's Museum)
  • Kimberly Tesch (Program Director - Beacon)
  • Maggie Hayes (Fraternity & Sorority Life - UW)
  • Major Andrew Shiels (Salvation Army)
  • Malanie VonHaden (Capitol Police)
  • Mary Lauby (UW Health)
  • Matt Mikolajewski (City of Madison Economic Development Director)
  • Reuben Sanon (Deputy Mayor, City of Madison)
  • Scott Thompson (Capital Neighborhoods)

Learn more about our work from advisory council meeting notes:

June 2022 Meeting Summary
The Advisory Council was provided updates on the Action Plan reviews from the technical advisor IACP and academic advisor Dr. Robin Engle of the University of Cincinnati. The Advisory Council also agreed to withdraw the Violence Interrupters as an ISI strategy due to duplication with the forthcoming PHMDC's Violence Intervention and Outreach program with the expectation of coordination with PHMDC's program. 

Steering Committee

The Steering Committee manages the grant money and gives advice.

Members of the Steering Committee:

  • Public Health Madison & Dane County
  • City of Madison’s Community Development Division
  • Madison Police Department
  • University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute
  • Downtown Madison, Inc.
  • Capital Neighborhood Association