DOJ move could have lasting impact on Milwaukee and city residents
Statement of Alderman Khalif J. Rainey - September 20, 2017
The recent sudden announcement about the end of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Collaborative Reform Initiative concerns me and has potentially serious ramifications for the City of Milwaukee and its citizens.
The move to end the DOJ Collaborative Reform Initiative could stifle badly needed progress in improving the tattered state of community-police relations in Milwaukee. Instead of maintaining a focus on how the Police Department can improve its relations with citizens the DOJ will now shift to providing police training on active shooters, dismantling gangs and other criminal investigations (crime reduction measures).
The sharp turn in focus brought about by the new administration in Washington, D.C. is sadly not a shocking surprise but it has possible negative consequences for Milwaukee if we cannot improve how the MPD interacts with and is viewed by citizens. Importantly, the DOJ’s move could also worsen community-police conditions in other large cities across the U.S. experiencing ongoing serious problems (St. Louis, Baltimore and Chicago to name just a few).
The recently leaked DOJ Collaborative Reform Initiative draft document examining the Police Department was eye-opening for many but also not surprising to me. Too often MPD is viewed as and behaves like an occupying force in many neighborhoods, and public trust in officers is a very rare commodity in many areas.
Despite the DOJ announcement I strongly urge the Fire and Police Commission to push forward with securing solutions and reforms that will improve overall community-police relations. If that means butting heads with Chief Flynn (and the Mayor) from time to time so be it.
Our future generations deserve a Milwaukee where trust and accountability are restored with police and citizens, and our streets are made safer as a result.
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