Jeramey Jannene

Milwaukee Police Sending Body Armor To Ukraine

Sister city Irpin will receive donations of disused protective equipment.

By - Jul 22nd, 2022 01:30 pm
Milwaukee Police Department officers block a freeway on-ramp from protesters. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee Police Department officers wearing body armor block a freeway on-ramp from protesters in 2020. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Milwaukee’s largely symbolic sister city relationship with Irpin, Ukraine has taken on real importance during the country’s attempt to repel a Russian invasion.

The Milwaukee Police Department is poised to dispatch a shipment of body armor, face shields and batons to the city.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson spoke with Irpin Mayor Oleksandr Markushyn via video chatting software in early March, with the latter appearing in combat fatigues and body armor. Then on May 30, with the front having moved away from Irpin, Markushyn visited Milwaukee as part of a larger trip to the United States.

Irpin, an approximately 60,000-resident suburb of the capital city of Kyiv, became a battlefield during the initial Russian invasion and was a key site in the Ukrainian army’s maneuvers to stop the February invasion from progressing further. The front of the war was pushed back to the east, with Irpin being liberated in late March.

Markushyn sent Johnson a letter on June 17 asking for support, particularly in the form of firearms.

“We are greatly interested in the firearms that your community is seizing, buying back and destroying as part of the work of your police force. We are ready to take those firearms for our local police and territorial defense forces. This will greatly increase our potential at repelling any Russian invasion,” wrote Markuhsyn. “We believe the notion that [a] large percentage of Ukrainians own and know how to use guns is a strong deterrence for any invasion.”

MPD won’t be sending guns, but it is sending something.

“It is mostly body armor, face shields and wooden batons,” said MPD chief of staff Nick DeSiato to members of the Public Safety & Health Committee on Thursday.

The equipment primarily to be used is leftover from officers that resigned or retired.

“We are not getting rid of any equipment that we would be replacing through the budget process,” said DeSiato.

He said MPD is proud to be able to make the donation.

The full council is expected to vote on allowing the donation at its July 28 meeting. The committee unanimously recommended its approval. An authorizing resolution said the shipment would be made at no cost to Milwaukee.

Milwaukee established a sister city relationship with Irpin in December 2017.

The Milwaukee area has done more than send body armor to Ukraine. The Rotary Club of Milwaukee has participated in a medical supplies donation effort that has sent multiple shipments to the country.

Reporter Lee Matz visited Irpin and other Ukrainian cities for two weeks in late May.

Categories: Public Safety, Weekly

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