“I fear trust will never be rebuilt:” Local officials react to leaked DOJ report on MPD

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MILWAUKEE -- Elected officials and community activists called for the Milwaukee Police Department to make the changes recommended in the draft of a federal report. Chief Ed Flynn has questioning the draft's findings.

The report has not been finalized - in fact, it's now several months overdue. Those at Friday's event referred to a draft of the US Department of Justice's report. That draft was leaked but activists say no matter how it became public, police should take it seriously.

It may only be a draft but State Representative David Bowen said the leaked DOJ report about the Milwaukee Police Department demonstrates the need for reform.

"Without significant improvement, I fear trust will never be rebuilt between our community and the police, who desperately need that trust," Bowen said.

Bowen highlighted the leaked report's criticism of MPD for not having a specific community policing policy , racial disparities in stops and searches, a lack of diversity on the force, and an ineffective early warning system for detecting troublesome officers. Activists say the draft is a confirmation.

Markasa Tucker from the African-American Roundtable

"We've been crying these same things for years. All the DOJ draft report did is amplify what has already been said over, and over, and over again with no change but only more blood at your doorstep," Markasa Tucker from the African-American Roundtable.

Friday's event  took place near 39th and Congress. The site of a deadly officer-involved shooting Sunday night, September 3rd. Antwon Springer was killed by officers after shooting a gun into the air. Family members said he was legally blind and did it to break up a fight in the street. His grandfather called for the release of body camera video.

Antwon Springer

"I don't know if they record voices or the commands that he said or what. That's what we need to see," Springer's grandfather, Hercules Brown Sr. said.

Springer's grandfather, Hercules Brown Sr.

Relatives alleged responding officers did not activated their lights and sirens; they said Springer would have noticed and might have acted different.

Wauwatosa Police are leading the investigation into the shooting. A department spokesman said there was nothing new he could release about the case, including whether or not body camera video of the shooting exists.

MPD did not respond to FOX6's request for an interview about the leaked report. In the past, Flynn has defended the department against claims or racial bias by pointing to data that showed residents of color were disproportionately likely to be either victims or suspects of violent crime. Flynn has said the department would be be doing a disservice to high-crime neighborhoods by patrolling all areas of the city as if they had the same challenges.

On Thursday September 7th, Chief Ed Flynn said both the department and Fire and Police Commission believe the draft has major inaccuracies.

"Not surprisingly, there are serious flaws as the report pertains to us," Flynn said.

MPD actually asked for the DOJ to do this collaborative reform report in 2015. City leaders had expected the final report to be done in January. At this time, there's no indication when - or if - that final report will be completed. Some members of the Common Council have voiced concerns that the U.S. DOJ under the Trump administration has devalued the collaborative reform studies with local police departments.

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