American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin
Press Release

MPD Stops Too Often Undermine Community Trust, ACLU Survey Finds

Today, the ACLU of Wisconsin released survey results of over 800 Milwaukee residents’ attitudes about police.

By - Jan 21st, 2015 03:29 pm

MILWAUKEE: Today, the ACLU of Wisconsin released survey results of over 800 Milwaukee residents’ attitudes about police, which demonstrate that Milwaukeeans are less likely to trust or seek help from police officers if they have had contact with police. This finding is especially true in the six zip codes (53212, 53206, 53208, 53213, 53218, and 53216) that correspond to neighborhoods heavily policed by the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD). The ACLU mostly surveyed younger people between the ages of 14 and 24.

The survey data indicates that individuals who have had contact with the MPD are more likely to have negative attitudes about the police department than respondents who have not had contact with them. More importantly, people who have had experiences with law enforcement were far less likely to think calling the police was helpful or want to assist in an investigation. Even those who did not report a negative experience, but did have significant contact with police, reported that they were less likely to assist in a police investigation or report a crime.

“It is time to end over-reliance on police practices that include huge numbers of officer-initiated pretextual stops.  The sheer volume of stops (243,328 stops in 2013 in a city of about 600,000 people), raises questions regarding whether the number of officer-initiated pretextual stops are undermining trust in public safety,” said Chris Ahmuty, Executive Director of the ACLU of Wisconsin.

“A patrolling strategy that deeply stigmatizes Black and Latino residents and neighborhoods by targeting them for stops may negate much of the good that may result from community-oriented policing programs. Milwaukee residents should not have to settle for second-class police service, or be treated as second-class citizens by the police,” Ahmuty concluded.

The summary report and survey instrument is attached and can be found at:

The ACLU of Wisconsin is a non-profit, non-partisan, private organization whose 7,000 members support its efforts to defend the civil rights and liberties of all Wisconsin residents. For more on the ACLU of Wisconsin, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @ACLUofWisconsin and @ACLUMadison.

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