Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Stop-and-Frisk Suit Could Cost $6 Million

Council members struggle with the rising price tag. Will they approve settlement?

By - May 8th, 2018 02:50 pm
Milwaukee Police Department

Milwaukee Police Department

Members of the Milwaukee Common Council are struggling to get their heads around just how much a settlement regarding the practices of the Milwaukee Police Department will cost the city.

The likely price tag has gone from $1.9 million to over $6 million. The council learned of the increased cost Tuesday morning at a special meeting of the Finance & Personnel Committee and ultimately decided to hold the measure at the full meeting of the Common Council that followed.

“I feel like I’m buying a used car and not getting an honest deal here,” said Alderman Michael Murphy.

A previous committee hearing had ended with an open question about how much a consultant required as part of the settlement would cost. That consultant, Chicago-based Hillard Heintze, could receive $3.5 million over five years to work on police department practices.

In addition, there are software and monitoring compliance costs that come with the consent decree associated with the settlement. And the need to use emergency borrowing to fund the $1.9 million base settlement would further increase the long-term costs of the measure.

Council president Ashanti Hamilton will need to call a special meeting of the Common Council before May 21st to approve any settlement. The case is scheduled for trial on the 21st, with deputy city attorney Jan Smokowicz warning the council that costs would likely be even higher should the city lose the suit.

Murphy expressed frustration with the growing costs of the suit in a post-meeting interview, stating “if you spend money on lawsuits, you can’t spend it on services.”

The lawsuit was filed as a class action by the Americans Civil Liberties Union in February 2017. The $1.9 million settlement would be dedicated to attorney’s fees and costs. The plaintiffs were not seeking damages.

Hamilton, who characterized the ACLU as a “friendly plaintiff,” said holding the measure on Tuesday “would give us a little breathing room about the impact of this decision, not the outcome, because we all want the same outcome.”

A release announcing the suit from the ACLU states: “Between 2007 and 2015, the Milwaukee Police Department almost tripled their traffic and pedestrian stops, from around 66,000 to around 196,000, following the launch of the unlawful stop-and-frisk program in 2008.” Plaintiffs listed in the case include Charles Collins and State Assembly Representative David Crowley.

The city had attempted to get the suit dismissed after Police Chief Edward A. Flynn retired. The chief, who was named as a defendant, was identified as the “sole architect” of the practice which the ACLU argues violates the fourth amendment of the U.S. Constitution that requires police to have reasonable suspicion for a stop. The ACLU also argues the MPD’s practices violate the 14th amendment by conducting stops “motivated by race and ethnicity.”

The city has spent millions on settlements in recent years including a $2.3 million settlement to the family of Dontre Hamilton and a $5 million settlement regarding strip and cavity searches.

The council approved the creation and funding of a risk manager within the Fire and Police Commission in the 2018 budget. The position, designed to reduce lawsuit exposure and improve department practices, has not been filled.

The police department has a budget in excess of $300 million in 2018.

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8 thoughts on “City Hall: Stop-and-Frisk Suit Could Cost $6 Million”

  1. sofa wisdom says:

    but Great Trolley will bring us all together

  2. MKE Kid says:

    Yep. Chief Ed was a “numbers” man. The higher, the better, but they were never high enough to satisfy him.

  3. GPS says:

    Any comment from the guy that hired Flynn?

  4. frank a schneiger says:

    There is a way out of this financial nightmare. But the City and the MPD would have to move quickly, while the judgements are appealed. These judgments are based on the 14th Amendment’s equal protection clause. To negate them, the police must demonstrate equal treatment. To do so, they should begin to exclusively stop and frisk white people. They should focus on those who look suspicious, making whiteness the criterion for suspiciousness, in the process negating the claim that minorities have been targeted.

    While stopping and frisking them, especially in trendy neighborhoods where there are known to be a lot of dope fiends and socially maladjusted white people, the police should freely use insults and racial slurs, “white trash,” “honky,” etc. Smart asses should be roughed up. The results of these bona-fide stop and frisks can then be aggregated and an appeal based on solid evidence of equal treatment submitted to the court.

    Some of these white people may be upset by treatment previously reserved for minorities, but it can be explained to them that sometimes you have to take one for the team to save precious taxpayer dollars. When they look at these numbers and the savings, they will understand and buy into the program.

  5. MONICA says:

    Frank – you are RIGHT ON IT!! Love that response.

  6. MONICA says:

    Perhaps if they treated people with RESPECT AND DIGNITY from the get go – we wouldn’t have this problem. They are trained military style- we are not being respected as people. And don’t forget- we are innocent until proven guilty. ( what a sham) The whole darn force needs to be RE TRAINED, and we need to stop pretending racism and abuse is not going on .

  7. MKE Kid says:

    GPS: I have plenty to say about the guy that hired Flynn, but this is a family friendly forum. BTW, I wonder what they’re doing with the Downtown condo that we purchased for Flynn?

  8. Jeramey Jannene says:

    @MKE Kid – I don’t see Flynn listed as an owner in the building I believe he lived in, so I’m guessing he just rented it. I do not believe the city purchased it for him and have never heard that even suggested. He lived at a few different places over the years, and I suspect was always renting.

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