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Building bridges between police & citizens: MPD’s “Educate to Empower” teaches folks how to conduct themselves

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Building bridges between police and citizens. That's the goal behind the Milwaukee Police Department's "Educate to Empower" program. The program's goal is to help reduce tensions during citizen/police interactions by teaching people how to conduct themselves.

Milwaukee police officers stunned some of those who live near the Lapham Park area with a map pinpointing high crime areas.

The discussion was part of MPD's "Educate to Empower" program -- a community outreach initiative.

One attendee, acting as Chief Flynn, said she'd handle the program by increasing police presence.

"We would get the ones -- pick out the certain spots. Monitor, monitor -- constant monitoring, and if we have to go over shifts then that's what we do," the attendee said.

"At a given time, you may see an overabundance of officers driving around," Milwaukee Police Officer Troy Carus said.

The biggest goal of the program is to teach proper police/citizen interaction.

"So do you think that if you started to swear and cuss and act disorderly in front of the officer -- is that going to solve the problem or is that going to make it worse? It's gonna make it worse," Officer Carus said.

"What if that officer had a bad day at home with his wife and he brings it to work with him and then he's got a snotty attitude with somebody?" an attendee asked.

"I'm talking to you and I'm cussing and swearing and treating you like you don't want to be treated. The next thing out of your mouth is what? 'I want to see your supervisor' -- and you have the right to that," Officer Carus said.

Katie Harris says that's just the kind of information she was looking for.

"Things to help the people in the neighborhood when they go out. What to expect -- what they should answer to, questions they have the right to ask," Katie Harris said.

Officer Minisha Howard says police officers get a lot of questions about why they use manpower for small infractions.

"We are out there stopping different people for these smaller violations that may lead to something bigger," Officer Howard said.

The officers say if you are stopped by a police officer -- you should place your hands where they can be seen, and avoid sudden movements.

If you are issued a citation, don't argue on scene. You can contest the citation at your court date.