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County Board to vote on resolution establishing policy for external investigations of in-custody deaths

Milwaukee County Jail

MILWAUKEE — On Thursday, December 15th, the Milwaukee County Board is expected to vote on establishing a policy for external investigations of in-custody deaths at the Milwaukee County Jail and House of Correction.

This, in response to four deaths at the jail within a six-month period.

“There can be no ambiguity when it comes to something as serious as understanding the circumstances that led to the death of someone in the custody of Milwaukee County,” said Board Chairman Theodore Lipscomb, who authored the resolution, in a statement.

The statement indicates the resolution complements a separate action initiated by Lipscomb, who requested on November 1st that the Milwaukee County Comptroller conduct an audit of the private medical services contract for the Jail and House of Correction. That audit is ongoing.

The Judiciary Committee will consider the resolution, co-sponsored by Supervisor Supreme Moore Omokunde, at a special meeting Thursday at 8:30 a.m.

If the committee recommends adoption, the Board of Supervisors will then consider the resolution at their regular monthly meeting that same day.

If the resolution is adopted, supervisors will establish a broad county policy modeled on the procedures outlined in State Statute 175.47 for external investigations of in-custody deaths.

The resolution would require the HOC and Office of the Sheriff to report on the implementation of the policy in January.

According to the statement, Act 348 of 2013 requires all law enforcement agencies to have a written policy on investigations of officer-involved deaths, and requires an external investigation whenever an off-or-on duty law enforcement officer – but not a jail officer – is involved in a custodial death.

The House of Correction, which is overseen by the County Executive’s administration, does not have a formal written policy requiring external investigations of inmate deaths.

Four deaths have occurred in the Milwaukee County Jail this year.

Terrill Thomas died of dehydration in April, an infant died shortly after the mother gave birth in the jail in July, Kristina Fiebrink died in August, and Michael Madden died in October.