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ACLU, City of Milwaukee reach tentative agreement over ‘stop and frisk’ lawsuit involving MPD

MILWAUKEE — The ACLU said there’s an agreement with the City of Milwaukee over a “stop and frisk” lawsuit.

The ACLU hasn’t released any details about the agreement, but said it will advance “fairness and equal treatment” for anyone interacting with the police.

FOX6 News has reached out to the city for comment.

Below is a statement from the ACLU:

“The attorneys for the plaintiffs and the City of Milwaukee have been working towards resolving the litigation against the City’s stop-and-frisk practices, and have reached an agreement in principle.

The reforms in this agreement will advance fairness and equal treatment of people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds in the conduct of police stops and frisks in Milwaukee.

These reforms are critical to address the decade-long experience of Black and Brown people who have been subjected to baseless stops and frisks, and racial and ethnic profiling.”

The federal lawsuit was filed on behalf of six black and Latino plaintiffs who said they were stopped once or multiple times since 2010 without a citation or clear explanation — while taking part in lawful activities. The lawsuit claims MPD utilized policies that are unconstitutional.

The lawsuit alleged the stop-and-frisk program was citywide, but concentrated in areas largely populated by minorities, including the predominantly black neighborhoods in the north of the city, creating a “deepened public fear of and alienation from” the police.

The suit alleged former Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn suggested that increasing the number of stops in certain areas would disrupt and deter crime.

It asked the court to order the Milwaukee Police Department to immediately end the program and to declare that department is violating the Fourteenth Amendment’s equal protection clause and the Fourth Amendment’s protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

The ACLU has challenged similar police initiatives in Boston and Chicago over racial-profiling concerns. New York halted its stop-and-frisk policy in 2014 after a federal judge ruled it unconstitutional.

The number of traffic and pedestrian stops in Milwaukee rose from 66,657 in 2007, the year before the new stop-and-frisk directive, to 196,434 in 2015, according to Milwaukee Police Department data cited in the lawsuit.

Figures the ACLU obtained from the police department through an open records request found that African-American people comprised 72 percent of the more than 33,300 pedestrian stops officers conducted between 2010 and 2012. African-Americans make up about 39 percent of Milwaukee’s nearly 600,000 residents, according to 2015 Census data.

The ACLU’s analysis of those stops found that 41 percent lacked a clear explanation, with the reasons listed being “other,” ”null,” or “suspicious circumstances,” ”suspicious vehicle,” and “suspicious person.”

ACLU attorneys also contended that the department encouraged quotas for stops. They cited a May 2016 letter from the police union to department supervisors about placing officers “in a very difficult situation.”

MPD officials denied a quota system exists.