Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Council Wants No Pay for Suspended Officers

Seeks change in state law so city can stop paying suspended cops charged with felonies.

By - Jun 17th, 2020 12:15 pm
Milwaukee Police Department. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Police Department. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Police Department officer Michael Mattioli faces a homicide charge for killing Joel Acevedo in an illegal party he hosted while off-duty at his house in early April.

And while he’s suspended from the department, Mattioli is free on bail and is still drawing his salary.

Mayor Tom Barrett has called for him to be fired, but Police Chief Alfonso Morales said the Fire & Police Commission has halted the department’s internal investigation in favor of its own. The commission could ultimately establish cause for Mattioli’s termination through an in-house trial. But that investigation is likely to be delayed by the criminal investigation from the Milwaukee County District Attorney.

Under state statute 62.50, Mattioli will continue to be paid all along the way. And if he’s ultimately terminated he will not owe the city any of the money back. No other city employees get such protections.

On Tuesday the Milwaukee Common Council unanimously passed a resolution directing the city’s lobbying team to advocate for a reversal of that state policy.

The proposal, introduced by Alderwoman Nikiya Dodd, calls for greater accountability and transparency for police officers charged with “serious” felonies, regardless of whether the officer was on duty or not. Dodd said she thought homicides and other crimes detrimental to life should be included.

She said she was moved to make the proposal after learning of national incidents and the Mattioli case. “This particular resolution was put in after the incident with the off duty cop, Mattioli, who murdered Mr. Acevedo,” said Dodd when the proposal was before Judiciary & Legislation Committee. “At the end of the day we need to make sure people in our community feel safe.”

Dodd’s proposal would require more than allowing the officer to be suspended without pay. She is asking that the state amend the law to require any officer-involved death be investigated by an outside agency, even if an officer is off duty. Currently only on-duty deaths involving officers require an investigation.

“This legislation, and what we’re pushing for with it, is to have some continuity on how to best handle [investigations],” said Milele A. Coggs.

“They should be held to a higher standard,” said Dodd. “This is an important piece of legislation that should be taken up.” The proposal would allow back pay to individuals that are found not guilty and not terminated.

A 2009 state law change allowed the city to stop paying officers after they were fired (while an appeal was still pending) said city lobbyist Brenda Wood. The change built on a 2008 change that cut off pay for officers fired for serious charges. From 1990 to 2008 the city reports paying fired officers $4.4 million while their appeals played out.

Dodd’s lobbying request was co-sponsored by Coggs, Chantia Lewis, Khalif Rainey, Ashanti Hamilton, Jose G. Perez and Nik Kovac.

Categories: City Hall, Politics

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