Mixed Results on ACLU Settlement Compliance
Settlement monitor praises commitment by FPC and MPD to getting into compliance.
Almost two years in, the City of Milwaukee is still working to implement necessary policies, protocols and reporting methods to comply with a 49-page, $3.4 million settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union regarding racially disparate stop-and-frisk practices within the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD).
The Boston-based Crime and Justice Institute (CJI), the third-party consultant on the settlement, briefed the Common Council’s Judiciary & Legislation Committee Wednesday on the city’s progress implementing the complicated settlement. CJI representatives said the city is currently out of compliance on three matters, but has addressed others.
“I hope you can think about compliance as a process, rather than an event,” said CJI Executive Director Christine M. Cole. “There are a lot of things that need to happen. Some things might be compliant earlier than others.”
“During the first year there was progress and efforts really focused on creating administrative systems,” said Cole. She ticked off a list of standard operating procedures and new or improved processes, including accepting and tracking complaints. “The police department needs to roll those policies out with training.” She said training was a six-month program given the size and number of shifts at MPD.
CJI provides semi-annual reports on items not in compliance and annual reports on the entire settlement. “I believe this first report was really informative for them and gave them information on where to focus their efforts with the patrol division,” said Cole.
The CJI Executive Director said she has frequent conversations with MPD Chief of Staff Nick DeSiato. She’s also in regular contact with MPD Chief Alfonso Morales, Fire & Police Commission (FPC) Executive Director Griselda Aldrete, ACLU attorneys, the City Attorney’s Office, Mayor Tom Barrett‘s office and Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton.
“You are kind of where we expected you to be,” said Cole. “We see focused attention on getting this done and frankly, more is even better.”
A second semi-annual analysis will be submitted to the city in the coming weeks. “This will be the first six-month period post training, which is really important,” said Cole.
An annual report will be submitted in July and made public in September. City officials have 60 days to respond to anything in the report before it becomes public.
Aldrete, who has led the FPC for just over six months, drew praise from Cole. “We are thrilled to have some sense of stability with the leadership in the FPC. Working with director Aldrete is similar to how I described the tenor of the relationship with the police.”
Aldrete was one of a handful of people present at City Hall for meeting and updated the committee on the FPC’s efforts.
Audit Issues Looming
“I am confident that we will continue to work hard,” said Aldrete. She said the organization produced its first progress report last week.
One of the tasks the FPC must perform to ensure compliance is to perform 24 annual audits.
FPC Risk Auditor Mike Doherty, speaking via video conference call, shared a series of charts with the committee detailing audit timelines. He detailed how he is currently the lone auditor in the commission and believes they will need four.
“If we’re going to use one auditor it’s going to be extremely challenging to be compliant,” said Doherty.
“Mr. Doherty, I know you have a wonderful presentation, but technically unless you had the eyes of a hawk you wouldn’t be able to read it,” said committee chair Alderman Mark Borkowski. Members attending the media in-person and remotely agreed.
But a bigger issue looms.
“Once FPC brings in an auditor, my goal is that the auditor will be able to understand we have a plan in place for each of these audits,” said Doherty. He pledged to be available to answer questions if needed.
“That’s what I like to hear from a team player,” said Borkowski.
“Does that give you any concern with the city’s ability to execute this audit plan?” Bauman asked the CJI representatives.
“If you can help recruit the person with the right skills I believe you will be able to get on track,” said Cole. “Michael is not going to be able to save the day even if he stays in that position. It’s just too much work for one human being.”
Ald. Robert Bauman pointed out that according to a recent report from Aldrete half of the department’s 28 positions were funded, but vacant.
“As we all know, hiring people in the city can take awhile,” said Aldrete. She said consultants could be considered an option in the short-run.
“It seems to me not enough is being done,” said Ald. Tony Zielinski. “If we don’t fill these positions we are going to have some major problems with complying with the court order here.”
Zielinski asked Borkowski to schedule a presentation from the Department of Employee Relations (DER) related to what can be done to speed things up.
“I want to reiterate, since day one I have been working with the Department of Employee Relations to assess the organization of the FPC as a whole,” said Aldrete.
Borkowski promised to schedule the personnel report for the committee’s next meeting. It is scheduled to meet again on April 8th.
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Related Legislation: File 191831
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Read more about Stop-and-Frisk Lawsuit here