Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

Coggs Continues to Lead Push for Enhanced Trauma-Informed Care

Alderwoman pushes for standardization in referrals with hopes of preventing future crime.

By - Jan 7th, 2021 05:20 pm
Milele Coggs. Photo from the City of Milwaukee.

Milele Coggs. Photo from the City of Milwaukee.

When an individual witnesses a traumatic event what happens next is increasingly viewed as a determinant of future events.

“We argue about more cops all the time, but one of the simple things we can do is make sure people who experience trauma, particularly young people, can be referred to and offered the counseling assistance that they need,” said Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs Thursday to members of the Public Safety & Health Committee. “In hopes that it will prevent them in the future from becoming victimizers themselves.”

Coggs, in a measure that first appeared as a budget policy footnote in October, is backing the creation of standard operating procedures over the current patchwork setup. The request directs the Milwaukee Health Department to collaborate with the police and fire departments and provide assistance in developing standard operating procedures.

“We as a city have to make trauma care a priority regardless of who’s in leadership,” said Coggs. “As leadership shifts and changes, priorities could change as well.”

The health department’s Office of Violence Prevention director Reggie Moore is backing the effort.

He said the public safety departments are already the biggest referrers to his office, but further solidifying and codifying the training and connection would improve the situation. Moore said similar standard operating procedures exist for connecting domestic violence survivors to advocates.

“This is an easy one for us. We support both parts of this,” said Milwaukee Police Department chief of staff Nick DeSiato.

“We are a little caught off guard, we have been involved in this since February of 2018,” said Acting Milwaukee Fire Department Chief Aaron Lipski. He said each member has received training twice since then. “We have a policy and it’s in force.”

But that doesn’t mean the fire department is in opposition.

“Let me just be extremely vocal and say it’s very necessary,” said Lipski. I can’t think of a more righteous program, so we are obviously in full support of it.”

He said the department is working with Moore’s office and the City Attorney’s office on getting direct access to fire department incident data.

“Huge kudos to Reggie and the whole team,” said Lipski. “These kids shouldn’t be looking at the stuff they’re looking at these days.”

Fire & Police Commission Executive Director Leon W. Todd, III, in his first full week on the job, said he’s on board with the effort. The commission, to which Todd serves as the secretary, sets policies for the police and fire departments. He said trauma goes beyond violent crime to extreme poverty and family separation.

The committee unanimously backed the request. The full council will consider it on January 19th.

“We debate about police a lot, we debate about a public safety a lot,” said Coggs. “Prevention takes many forms, and this trauma care is just one many tools we have to help to prevent stuff in the future.”

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