Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Council’s Police Reform Wish List Grows

Council wants still more changes, but can only request Fire & Police Commission to enact them.

By - Jul 28th, 2020 03:55 pm
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Police Administration Building, 951 N. James Lovell St. Photo by Christopher Hillard.

Police Administration Building, 951 N. James Lovell St. Photo by Christopher Hillard.

The Milwaukee Common Council continues to push for reform in Milwaukee Police Department practices. Urban Milwaukee covered the council’s first five requests on July 10th.

But the council, by state law, has extremely limited direct oversight of police or fire department operations. Its legislation amounts to a wish list submitted to the citizen-led Milwaukee Police & Fire Commission or requests to state or federal lawmakers.

The Commission has plenty on its plate: it issued 11 directives to Police Chief Alfonso Morales last week that the chief must comply with or face potential termination or suspension. The citizen commission relies on a full-time staff to conduct investigations and follow up on complaints and approximately half of its positions are vacant. Mayor Tom Barrett also must appoint a new executive director after Griselda Aldrete opted out of the reappointment process and chastised the council for favoring spectacle over merit.

There has been at least one sign of progress. One of the directives given to Morales mirrored a council request for the department and commission to work to rebuild trust and implement community-oriented strategies to address unreset.

On Tuesday morning the council unanimously voted to add more items to its wish list.

Request For MPD Officers To Hand Out Business Cards

Introduced by Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, the proposal requests a policy be implemented by the FPC that would require police officers on official duty to hand out business cards with contact information to improve community cooperation and trust. “This way when you’re having some level of encounter with an officer you’re not left wondering who you are dealing with,” said Lewis. The proposal is modeled on ones already implemented in Albany, NY, New York City, Seattle and Portland, OR.

The measure is co-sponsored by council members Khalif Rainey, Milele A. Coggs, Nik Kovac, Jose G. Perez, Russell W. Stamper, II and Nikiya Dodd. More information on the request

Request For Any Homicide By Police Officer To Be Investigated By FPC

Introduced by Alderwoman Dodd, the proposal requests that FPC adopt a policy that all homicides committed by a police officer, whether the individual is on duty or not, are automatically subject to a FPC investigation. The commission waited weeks to open an investigation into the killing of Joel Acevedo by off-duty police officer Michael Mattioli. The officer, as governed by state law, is currently suspended with pay pending the outcome of the investigation. He also faces criminal charges separate from the FPC investigation.

The measure is co-sponsored by council members Ashanti Hamilton, Coggs, Lewis, Stamper, Rainey and Kovac. More information on the request

Request For FPC To Implement Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Competency Framework Alongside Police Training

Introduced by Council President Cavalier Johnson, the measure calls for the FPC to implement an assessment of an officer’s emotional intelligence and cultural competency for existing officers as part of their training. It does not explicitly define the terms, but does offer guidance on the spirit of the request. “To more effectively protect and serve the public, law enforcement officers have an obligation to learn to appropriately monitor their own and others’ emotions and use their knowledge to guide their thinking, action, and decision making,” says the resolution. “Emotional intelligence and cultural competency training provides opportunities to improve officer and public safety, increase solution options for resolving high-conflict encounters, and mitigate judgement [sic] and behavior issues exacerbated by poor physical and psychological health.”

The measure is co-sponsored by council members Rainey, Perez and Kovac. More information on the request

Request For FPC To Implement Emotional Intelligence and Cultural Competency Assessments for Hiring Police

Similar to the measure for training, this request calls for the FPC to use an emotional intelligence and cultural competency assessment in the police department’s hiring process. It requests that preference points be added for performance on the test. Hiring lists are developed based on scores on a variety of factors. The commission botched a residency preference bonus last year.

The measure is sponsored by Johnson, Perez, Rainey and Kovac. More information on the request

Request For Adoption of “Eight Can’t Wait” De-escalation and Restraint Policies

Again introduced by Johnson, the measure calls for the adoption of de-escalation and restraint policies similar to those advocated for in the Eight Can’t Wait policy proposal. The proposal, a collection of eight immediate police reform measures, gained national attention following the killing of George Floyd at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer. The Milwaukee Police Department reports that many of the requests have already been implemented, while critics of the department, including those on the council, have called for increased training and clarification on the policy.

The measure is co-sponsored by council members Marina Dimitrijevic, Rainey, Lewis, Kovac and Perez. More information on the request

Request Federal Legislation Requiring Federal Law Enforcement Officers To Wear Identification Markers

Introduced by Coggs, the measure records the Common Council’s support for federal legislation that would require all federal law enforcement to wear visible identification markers indicating who they are and where they work. The issue has come to a head in Portland, Oregon in recent weeks as unmarked federal agents, acting under the direction of the Department of Homeland Security, have arrested individuals and held them with no record of their arrest.

The measure is co-sponsored by council members Rainey, Lewis, Stamper and Kovac. More information on the request

Request For State Legislation Making Race-Based Acts of Unnecessarily Summoning A Police Officer A Hate Crime

This request isn’t directed at law enforcement personnel, but at those that request their presence. Introduced by Lewis, the measure directs the city’s Intergovernmental Relations Division to lobby for legislation that would label unjustified calls to 911 to summon a police officer on the basis of race as a hate crime. A similar proposal was introduced in 2019 in the Wisconsin State Assembly, but did not advance. Lewis told members of the Judiciary & Legislation Committee last week that people of color face a higher risk when police officers respond to a scene and an unjustified call to summon officers builds mistrust between individuals and law enforcement and puts people at risk.

The request is co-sponsored by council members Dodd and Coggs. More information on the request

Opposition To Any Atypical Deployment of Federal Law Enforcement Agents

Introduced by Rainey, this measure is another resolution introduced as a response to what is happening in Portland. The measure does not have a specific policy request for any other body, and instead simply puts the City of Milwaukee on record as opposing any deviation from “the regular, usual and ordinary conduct of federal law enforcement operations.” According to multiple local officials, the federal government’s planned Milwaukee “surge” will not be unusual and is part of a previously announced initiative.

The measure is co-sponsored by Alderman Kovac. More information on the request

Things The Council Does Control

There is one thing the council has direct control over – the budget. The council is scheduled to receive a model on what a 10 percent, approximately $30 million, budget reallocation to public health from the police department would look like. The model was requested within 30 days of the resolution’s June 25th adoption.

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One thought on “City Hall: Council’s Police Reform Wish List Grows”

  1. Ryan Cotic says:

    How does this address the dramatic increase in violent crime in this city?

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