ACLU Pushes City On Stop-and-Frisk
“Little progress,” group charges, on $3.4 million court settlement and mandated reform of police practices.
Nearly a year and a half after the Milwaukee Common Council approved a historic $3.4 million settlement that mandated sweeping reforms of stop-and-frisk practices, little progress has been made, leaders from the American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin say.
Karyn Rotker, senior staff attorney for the ACLU of Wisconsin, called on city leaders to take ownership and put “the settlement into practice.” Rotker made her comments last week during a Facebook Live update on the progress of the settlement.
The mayor’s office and the Fire and Police Commission declined to be interviewed or provide a statement for the story. Milwaukee Police Department spokeswoman Sheronda Grant said in a statement that the MPD was taking the reforms mandated in the settlement seriously and is committed to fulfilling the agreement.
In addition to the city, the Milwaukee Police Department and Fire and Police Commission were included in the lawsuit.
During the Facebook broadcast, the ACLU outlined several deadlines it says city leaders have not been met. They include a failure to provide adequate supervision of MPD staff, an insufficient review of body and dash cam footage and a failure to share information on each stop and frisk made by Milwaukee police.
The ACLU added the commission has not met requirements regarding the review of dash and body cam footage and has not been auditing all complaints from members of the public and officers within MPD who report police misconduct. The ACLU contends that the failure by the city, MPD and the FPC to meet deadlines have hindered the ability to determine whether issues that led to the lawsuit are being addressed.
Failure to meet those terms by July 2020 could result in legal action from the ACLU, which agreed to a grace period of two years from the time when the agreement was finalized.
“At that time, we will have to review the City’s actions and compliance and determine whether to ask the court to intervene,” Rotker stated to NNS.
The ACLU’s allegations are largely based on the findings of the Crime and Justice Institute, the independent agency contracted by the city that released a report on the agreement in September.
The Crime and Justice Institute report found that from January to June 2019, nearly 1,800 members of the MPD, including officers and supervisors, were trained on the requirements of the settlement agreement and that internal affairs officers received training on complaint procedures.
But that training needed to be followed by the installation, monitoring and enforcement of new policies and regulations, which also involves increased attention to and collection of data.
Grant said the police department “has been working in earnest to achieve the requirements and expectations of the Agreement.”
Grant also referred to other findings from the report as evidence that MPD had been making progress toward meeting those requirements.
“To date, CJI has witnessed an authentic commitment on the part of MPD to the goals and tasks that are outlined in the Settlement Agreement,” according to a statement from the report.
The ACLU criticized the department’s failure to issue a “Community Policing Status Report,” which was supposed to happen twice a year, and the underutilization of the Community Collaborative Committee and other avenues for increased community engagement, as examples.
“The Milwaukee Police Department has come very far in rebuilding trust with our diverse community,” Grant wrote.
Disarray at the Fire and Police Commission
The Fire and Police Commission has come under fire recently, with multiple reports of disarray and staff turnover connected mainly to the appointment of Griselda Aldrete as commissioner in August. The latest bombshell was a resignation letter from longtime investigator Cheryl Patane to the Fire and Police Commission and Common Council, citing a “frightening ignorance of FPC operations.”
Aldrete, during a Steering and Rules Committee hearing on Dec. 4, defended her leadership of the commission. She said despite recent resignations and ongoing staffing shortages, the commission had been busy reviewing disciplinary appeals and standard operating procedures as well as handling open records requests and conducting several investigations.
In terms of staffing shortages and financial constraints of the FPC and other city entities, Rotker stated that the costs associated with the settlement reforms are not a surprise and that city officials need to reallocate existing resources to ensure compliance and not violate the agreement.
“It’s clear and it’s always been clear that they needed additional staffing in getting up to speed in terms of the auditing and some of the other requirements,” she said.
More about the Fire & Police Commission's Troubles
- City Hall: Council, Aldrete Again Spar Over FPC - Jeramey Jannene - Jan 16th, 2020
- Op Ed: City Attorney Guts Authority of FPC Board - Paul Mozina - Jan 13th, 2020
- City Hall: Chief Morales Reappointed for Four Years - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 18th, 2019
- The Milwaukee Police Association Calls for Milwaukee Fire & Police Commissioner Steven DeVougas to Resign - Milwaukee Police Association - Dec 17th, 2019
- City Hall: Officer Ray Confirmed Without Debate - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 17th, 2019
- Murphy’s Law: The Mess at Fire & Police Commission - Bruce Murphy - Dec 17th, 2019
- FPC Leader Submitted Inaccurate Resume - Gretchen Schuldt - Dec 16th, 2019
- What Is Going On With the Fire and Police Commission? - Ald. Bob Donovan - Dec 16th, 2019
- ACLU Pushes City On Stop-and-Frisk - Edgar Mendez - Dec 13th, 2019
- City Hall: FPC Fumbles Police Residency Points - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 12th, 2019
- City Hall: Stunned Council Grills FPC Director - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 5th, 2019
- Mayor Tom Barrett released the following statement regarding Fire and Police Commission Director Griselda Aldrete: - Mayor Tom Barrett - Dec 5th, 2019
- City Hall: Taylor Blames FPC Problems on Mayor - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 5th, 2019
- Senator Taylor calls for Barrett to resign over confusion and mismanagement of Fire and Police Commission - State Sen. Lena Taylor - Dec 5th, 2019
- Alderman Donovan: Fire and Police Commission dysfunction demands a thorough investigation - Ald. Bob Donovan - Dec 5th, 2019
- Public Meeting for Board of Fire and Police Commission Appointee - Mayor Tom Barrett - Dec 4th, 2019
- City Hall: Council to Review Fire & Police Commission - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 4th, 2019
- City Hall: Trouble at Fire & Police Commission? - Jeramey Jannene - Dec 2nd, 2019
- City Hall: Barrett Must Rebuild Fire & Police Board - Jeramey Jannene - May 29th, 2019