Gretchen Schuldt

Report Finds Continuing Police Bias

ACLU analysis finds racial bias in stop and frisks by Milwaukee police.

By , Wisconsin Justice Initiative - Sep 26th, 2021 01:55 pm
Police Administration Building, 951 N. James Lovell St. Photo by Christopher Hillard.

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

Milwaukee police are still stopping Black and Hispanic people at a far higher rate than they stop white people, a new report shows.

The same is true of police conducting field interviews and frisks.

The disparities are getting worse, according to the ACLU of Wisconsin.

The new report was prepared by the Crime and Justice Institute as a result of the 2018 settlement of a lawsuit by nine Black and Hispanic/Latino Milwaukee residents alleging that Milwaukee police unlawfully engaged in racially biased stop-and-frisk practices.  The nine were represented by the ACLU of Wisconsin, national ACLU, and the law firm of Covington & Burling.

As part of the settlement, the Police Department, the Fire and Police Commission and the city agreed to undertake a number of reforms, including an end to race-based pedestrian and traffic stops.

“We’re at a critical moment where the Milwaukee Police Department, three years into the settlement, has failed to achieve compliance for even a single year and continues to over police Black and Latinx people at an alarming, unacceptable, and worsening rate,” Karyn Rotker, senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Wisconsin, said in a prepared statement. “We are also deeply concerned by the lack of adequate supervision and discipline to impose the accountability that this agreement requires.”

The Fire and Police Commission also issued a statement that said the city and police department have more work to do to comply with the settlement.

“The FPC is fully committed to this essential work, as well as to exercising its critical oversight function to support MPD and hold the Department accountable to meet its settlement obligations,” the commission said.

The charts below are from the CJI’s report. The full report is here.

Ratio of stop rates for Black and Hispanic/Latino drivers or residents to stop rates for white drivers or residents

Ratio of stop rates for Black and Hispanic/Latino drivers or residents to stop rates for white drivers or residents

Traffic stops per 100 drivers by race, ethnicity, and district

Traffic stops per 100 drivers by race, ethnicity, and district

Field interviews per 1,000 residents by race, ethnicity, and district

Gretchen Schuldt writes a blog for Wisconsin Justice Initiative, whose mission is “To improve the quality of justice in Wisconsin by educating the public about legal issues and encouraging civic engagement in and debate about the judicial system and its operation.”

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