Milwaukee aldermen propose five policing reforms in wake of no-charging decision in Hamilton case
MILWAUKEE (WITI) — A group of Milwaukee aldermen proposed policing reforms on Tuesday morning, December 23rd. Their ideas are being presented in the wake of Monday’s decision by Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm not to file charges against Christopher Manney in the shooting death of Dontre Hamilton.
Common Council members Ashanti Hamilton, Russell Stamper II, Milele Coggs, Willie Wade and José Pérez say the District Attorney’s decision demonstrates the need for reforms. Common Council President Michael Murphy also spoke at the news conference Tuesday.
These aldermen are in agreement about the need for change, but they’re not necessarily in agreement on whether Manney should have been criminally charged in Dontre Hamilton’s death.
“I want to express my profound disgust, disappointment and overall frustration with the D.A.`s decision not to charge Officer Manney,” Stamper said.
These Common Council members are now actively working to enact five reforms:
- The creation of a community advisory council to advise the Milwaukee Police Department on better strategies for maintaining community-police relations.
- Re-evaluating the diversity training that is provided to police officers — pursuing the issuance of a Request for Proposals to seek a new provider for such training.
- Expanding the Fire and Police Commission that governs the Milwaukee Police Department from seven to nine members.
- Equipping every Milwaukee police officer with a body camera to record their interactions with members of the public — seeking funding through asset forfeiture or any other avenue that can be identified.
- The creation of a comprehensive and effective early warning system to monitor individual officers on the police force for indicators of violent or aggressive tendencies. Complaints against individual officers, performance reviews and other metrics must be used to identify officers who may pose a threat to the public and provide those officers with the retraining and counselling that they need. The ACLU has recommended the enactment of such a policy.
"These are things we actually can do," Stamper said.
But not every alderman thinks the proposed changes would improve the situation in Milwaukee.
"We need to look like we`re doing something but really, many of these ideas I`ve heard before and until they`re fully fleshed out, I`m not heavily enthusiastic about them," Alderman Joe Dudzik said.
The Milwaukee Police Department issued the following statement in reaction to the proposals by the aldermen:
"The Milwaukee Police Department welcomes the aldermen’s public interest in our continuing efforts to provide the city with police services of the highest ethical and professional standards and notes that the substantive changes suggested in (Monday's) press release have either been implemented or are underway.
The Milwaukee Police Department willingly engaged in the creation and implementation of the Milwaukee Commission on Police Community Relations in 2005 and currently works with dozens of community-based groups and citywide leaders to improve and maintain positive, constructive relations with the residents we serve.
Additionally, we continuously evaluate the training and education provided to our members to ensure that it meets or exceeds all relevant standards. In concert with national experts, the MPD has developed and implemented a leading-edge curriculum related to Fair and Impartial Policing.
The Milwaukee Police Department operates under the authority of the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners which increased in size from five to seven members in 2008. As such, we neither participate in the selection of Commissioners nor have a role in the determination of the number of Commissioners serving on the body.
It has been well-reported that the MPD has already completed a field test and an RFP process for the initial purchase of body-worn cameras. We anticipate the purchase of this first installment of camera systems to occur later this winter. We will evaluate the systems and increase the number available for use on a continual basis.
The MPD has been using an “early warning system” since 2008 and has modified the triggers for supervisory intervention and investigation, when appropriate, several times in the past several years. These systems are dynamic and require the kind of continual monitoring and modification provided by the Department.
Like the aldermen supporting these initiatives, we look forward to productive and informative conversations about these and other important matters facing our city and its police department."
In a joint statement, these Common Council members said the following in a news release early Tuesday:
"As local leaders in the City of Milwaukee, we will do our part in the pursuit of justice that must continue well beyond this day and place. There are steps that we can take to try and prevent incidents like this from occurring in the future, and we will pursue them. And while there are some matters that are beyond our control, we will aggressively lobby for action at a state and federal level to help the Hamiltons in their quest for justice.
These proposals are only a beginning, and we look forward to a productive dialogue with our colleagues on the council and the public about these important matters."
The Common Council has approved $100,000 for body cameras -- included in the 2015 budget. The aldermen speaking out on Tuesday want body cameras for all officers, which would cost about $1 million.
A spokesman for the Mayor's Office says Mayor Barrett is considering appointing two new members to the Fire and Police Commission next year, but first, he wants to fill the opening for executive director.
CLICK HERE for further coverage of the Dontre Hamilton case via FOX6Now.com.