MILWAUKEE -- There's a wealth of reaction by city of Milwaukee oficials to the permanent firing of Richard Schoen, an officer who was seen on dashcam video punching a female suspect, then dragging her out of a squad car by her hair inside an MPD garage.
Milwaukee's Fire and Police Commission had initially decided to reinstate Schoen, following a 60-day suspension, but unanimously reversed that decision on Tuesday, December 11th.
The decision led to reaction from several city leaders. Those who support the ruling called it justice, while at least one Common Council member called it "government by intimidation."
Common Council President Willie Hines said in a statement: "I join citizens throughout the city today in celebrating the Fire and Police Commission’s choice to reverse course and terminate Officer Richard Schoen. The committee’s decision to reconsider its initial disciplinary finding, a 60-day suspension, is not only just, but it is the most appropriate thing to do."
Hines goes on to say, "We all recognize the difficult job with which Milwaukee police officers are tasked. The City of Milwaukee spends significant taxpayer resources on ensuring the department can deliver quality, professional services. When officers get it right, we must applaud them. When officers exercise the kind of brutal disregard for regulations and human well-being displayed by Officer Schoen, we must hold them accountable. This ensures the protection of our citizens’ most basic rights, as well as the ability of the rule-abiding, vast majority of police officers to ensure residents’ safety."
Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan holds a much different perspective on the Schoen story. He said in a statement on Tuesday, December 11th: "Today’s reversal by the Fire and Police Commission on the reinstatement of Officer Richard Schoen should be very troubling to Milwaukee residents."
Donovan goes on to say, "Very simply, what happened today is akin to a jury changing its verdict because certain individuals stood up in the courtroom and raised their voices in disagreement. This reversal is mind boggling, and I believe it could expose the city to a very damaging lawsuit. As I have stated previously, I have not been privy to the testimony heard by the Commission in the Schoen case, and I do not know whether his firing by Chief Flynn should be upheld, or whether he should be reinstated."
Donovan also said, "I have raised my strong concerns about the outrageous, disruptive behavior displayed during last week’s Commission meeting. The use of profanity and veiled threats uttered by some at that public meeting cannot stand, and I am expecting justice to be done. At the very least, the Milwaukee Police Department should be moving forward with issuing disorderly conduct citations to certain individuals. Just imagine if Officer Schoen’s firing had been upheld by the Commission, and a group of MPD officers stood in the meeting room and yelled expletives and threats at Commission members? While I have always believed that Milwaukee police officers should be held to a higher standard, that doesn’t mean that the rest of us should not be held to any standard at all."
Mike Crivello, President of the Milwaukee Police Association said in a statement: “The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission heard fourteen hours of testimony during a hearing, which was open to the public; they rendered a fair and responsible decision. It is unfortunate that the FPC has now reversed that decision! On behalf of the membership of the Milwaukee Police Association and the family of Officer Schoen – we are extremely disappointed in the Commission. The Association will review available options.”
Alderwoman Milele Coggs said in a statement: "The Commission did the right thing when it chose to review the decision regarding Officer Schoen. What the Commission discovered while writing their final decision and during its re- evaluation is that the state law and Commission rules call for them to give greater weight to the Chief’s original determination to fire the officer. They continued their deliberations with the revised information and concluded that Officer Schoen should be fired. Their final written decision should clarify any remaining questions about the reasons for the actions. I applaud the Commission for doing the right thing for the right reasons, and now we have to help the city move forward and improve our police -- community relations. Perhaps it is also time for the Milwaukee County District Attorney to take a fresh look at the case of Officer Schoen and explore the possibility of charges."
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