Changing the Warrior Culture of the Police

By Patricia Obletz

The Urgent Need 4 Change: 44th President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing: law enforcement culture should embrace a guardian— rather than a warrior— mindset.

March 27, 2018 update This is what police also do:

March 9, 2018 update This is what the last police chief wouldn’t do, despite the need to do so as outlined below by CC4QP two years ago:

The Community Coalition for Quality Policing ( was catapulted into being in 2016 by a series of unacceptable events involving the Milwaukee Police Department and the deaths or serious injuries suffered by unarmed blacks and Latinos as a result of altercations with the police. This coalition is a wide-ranging group of advocacy, activists and faith and service organizations united by the need to improve the Milwaukee Police Department’s community relations, reduce crime, and strengthen the lives of community members and police officers.

Sixty years ago, Daniel Bell was killed, despite being unarmed, although a knife had been found in his hand by police. But decades had to pass before a police officer’s conscience gave him the courage to testify to the placement of the knife.

In recent history, Dontré Hamilton was the most prominent unarmed decedent, and Frank Jude was the most prominent beating victim, but there are many other not-so-well-known unarmed victims, such as, but not limited to Samuel Rodriguez, Ernest Lacy, Larry Jenkins, Michael Page, Justin Fields, and sickle-cell anemia sufferer, Derek Williams, who suffocated in the back of a squad car while beseeching the intentionally distracted squad car’s officer for help.

Yet Milwaukee’s larger metropolitan community tends to think that the 2016 disturbance in Sherman Park resulted strictly from the shooting of Sylville Smith. But, in addition to MPD’s trail of dead and wounded unarmed black men, attention must also be paid to the 75 known cavity searches of both men and women, some of which occurred in public, all of which fueled community rage.

RL McNeely

Experience Drives Fear of Police
In spite of Milwaukee’s data driven approach to policing, relations between residents and police remain rife with tension and conflict. These relations cost the city millions of dollars, impede law enforcement efforts, and erode public trust. Recent events only underscore the urgency for change.

There is a widespread belief among young central city adults that there are squads of brutal police officers known as “The Punishers; The Midnight Riders” and “The Jump-Out Boys”? So disturbances such as Sherman Park in 2016 typically result from years of police-misconduct frustration, and subsequent outrage, rather than flowing from just a single event.

Sylville Smith. Dontre Hamilton. Derek Williams — This police culture of the warrior mindset has a history as old as the 13th Amendment. Plantation security police exploded into departments across the country once slaves were emancipated after the Civil War, birthing Jim Crow laws, which author Michelle Alexander brought into the public consciousness in her bestselling book, “The New Jim Crow.”

The enactment of the Civil Rights Bill in 1964 rallied racists, be they farmers, police, construction workers, politicians, or dog walkers, spawning stricter sentencing laws and the War On Drugs, casting wider nets around impoverished, nonviolent people, all the while building more and more prisons over the past three decades – big, big money for Wall Street:


However, even in Wisconsin, where the incarceration of blacks is highest in the country,” the GOP governor admitted that the state cannot afford the steadily increasing prison population. Two years ago, Grover Norquist, the Republican who in 2012 got 95% of his party members to sign a pledge promising not to raise taxes, basically told Wisconsin legislators and activists that prison reform is vital to a healthy budget.

The governor this year also threw a bone to increasing prison mental health services — $2.2 million to convert an unused housing unit at Oshkosh Correctional Institution for 86 inmates whose mental illnesses are serious and persistent, usually exacerbated by overuse of solitary confinement, which the state corrections department now calls “restrictive housing.” Which the United Nations calls torture after 15 days. Wisconsin jails and prisons are known to keep inmates in solitary confinement for months, sometimes years.

Oshkosh is 90 minutes from Milwaukee, home of many inmates, many with families and friends who cannot afford to visit them.
The $4 million a year the state now spends on treatment and diversion programs amounts to less than 1 percent of the total prison budget. This is unacceptable.

It’s no surprise that today’s police forces are usually the first responders to people in the midst of a mental health crisis: about 60 to 70 percent of prisoners have a mental illness, which is often self-medicated by legal and illegal substances that can lead to addiction, and then to crime to feed that addiction. Poverty also triggers mental illnesses, including addiction. But the phenomenal growth of incarceration launched in the 1980s has had little impact on crime, especially once funding for prevention and true rehabilitation programs dried up. Living in unsafe and unhealthy conditions breeds illness and violence. More Mentally Ill Persons Are in Jails and Prisons Than Hospitals: A Survey of the States.

The United States spends more money than any Western democracy on its prison system. It also has the largest crime rate of any country. If there’s no payoff in terms of a safer society, why do we continue to lock up more and more people? Money, and police officers feed these often overcrowded, inhumane facilities. In 2014, “incarcerated people had a median annual income of $19,185 prior to their incarceration … which is 41% less than non-incarcerated people of similar ages.”

Seeking Change

In 2014, the Milwaukee Police Department consulted Michael S Scott, director, Center for Problem-Oriented Policing (POP); author; former police chief; clinical professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School, now at Arizona State University School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Progress has been made, but there is room to improve the efficiency of POP and deploy it across Milwaukee.

According to Scott, the police cannot cover crime AND health incidents. MPD needs to partner with businesses, activists and other government agencies in order to degrade violence and crime.

Problem-Oriented Policing Works

CC4QP brought to Milwaukee in November 2016 the Cincinnati community coalition sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to oversee their police. In 2002, Cincinnati adopted Problem-Oriented Policing (POP) after DOJ ordered the department to enact reforms. In 10 years, use of force incidents dropped 69 percent.

CC4QP brought Michael Scott to Milwaukee the following June for a series of educational events. Scott was interviewed mid-day by Mike Gousha, “On the Issues.” That evening, at a town hall meeting at the Milwaukee Black Historical Society, Scott joined a panel with Police Chief Edward Flynn, Police Association President Michael Crivello, and Director Reggie Moore of the Office of Violence Prevention for a discussion and Q & A with the standing room only crowd. Shannon Sims of TMJ4-TV moderated. Scott also spoke to the Rotary Club and Milwaukee Press Club at a lunch.

Scott’s visit culminated in a Tuesday meeting with Milwaukee Mayor Thomas Barrett, his chief of staff Patrick Curley and staff member Monique Patterson; Police Chief Edward A. Flynn; NAACP MKE President Fred Royal; Felmers O. Chaney Advocacy Board Chair, RL McNeely PhD, JD, and Darryl Morin, past National Vice President and LULAC (League of United Latin American Citizens) Council #340 Bid Committee Chair.

Fred Royal

The meeting ended with talk about “bringing in someone from Scott’s Center for Problem-Oriented Policing to identify potential areas for improved efficiency,” Royal told PeaceOfMind. He said that, “by sharpening communication skills and building a ‘tolerance for ambiguity’ (as Scott put it) in the field, as well as by creating partnerships with businesses, residents and other government agencies can reduce unnecessary force, as it did in Cincinnati.

“Problem-Oriented Policing utilizes COMPSAT, which drives policing activity by collecting data from hotspots that identify criminal behavior as a robbery, prostitution, drug dealing, vagrancy, loitering, public intoxication, etc. High frequency calls are another tool that require an in-depth study down the road,” Royal said. “Too many calls were false burglar alarms. That’s when former Police Chief Nan Haggerty told security companies that they had to respond to their alarms because MPD no longer would.

“The police still get calls for non-police matters, such as cats in trees, lost dogs, dead animals,” Royal said. “We have to be more strategic in what we utilize our police services for, so they can focus on real problems and get deeper into building relationships with neighborhood residents.

“MPD does some of that now,” Royal said, “by pushing Pres. Obama’s My Brothers’ Keeper initiative, collaborating with the community, asking for and receiving suggestions from community members. District 3 holds public safety meetings, handles conversations and then collectively comes up with strategies on how to address the high concern issues of the community. Every district holds crime and safety meetings, but they don’t all request community input.”

Royal also said that MPD had not yet fully invested in problem-oriented policing to the point that it is the overarching police philosophy. “However, they very recently changed their vision and mission statements to align with the POP philosophy of partnership to reduce fear and secure safety. Nevertheless, given the changed federal administration, the US Department of Justice has been ordered to drop investigations** into police forces around the country. The POP expert will, in effect, be doing the same review. That’s why CC4QP is calling for an independent audit of the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) as related to MPD’s effectiveness, and to the implementation and utilization of Problem-Oriented Policing principles.

“CC4QP also strongly suggests that the SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures), goals, and objectives advocated by CC4QP* be reviewed for possible ratification by the FPC (Fire and Police Commission) and subsequent implementation by MPD,” Royal said.

“Changing the culture of policing is a big job that requires in-depth investigations over time before we’ll be ready to tap the federal government for help,” Royal said, then smiled: “We’ll have a new president by then.”

*CC4QP Vision Statement on Police-Community Relations

Recommendations For New MPD Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)

1. Officers should know as many people as possible in the areas they patrol. To achieve this, all patrol officers should be required to attend, periodically, neighborhood churches, and periodic meetings of neighborhood organizations, local celebratory activities and, also, MPD should sponsor celebratory activities, especially for youth.

2. MPDs involvement in collaborative efforts with community members to reduce crime should be increased. To achieve this, officers must be aware that they will have to cultivate collaboration, particularly in communities that have been estranged by prior MPD interventions. Additionally, all patrol officers should be required on a quarterly basis to engage in 12 to 20 hours of community service in the districts where they work.

3. Rank-and-file police officers should be encouraged to express ways of improving police-community relations without fear of reprisal. To achieve this, perhaps greater MPD interfacing with organizations such as, but not limited to, the League of Martin, will need to occur.

4. Psychological Evaluations. Require under SOP §500 (Personnel Evaluations), in addition to all required performance evaluations, that recruits be psychologically evaluated, by licensed psychologists, when selected for police academy training, and that all probationary and non-probationary MPD employees be evaluated before being hired, and semi-annually, and upon request, in-between, especially for manifestations of trauma. Evaluations should be performed by licensed psychologists who are familiar with the rigors of policing.

5. Body-Worn Cameras. Cameras (such as body-worn cameras) should be turned on for effective accountability purposes as soon as an officer exits the patrol car, or whenever there is interaction with the public, during the early stages of all encounters, except when the interaction involves serious sexual violence, dealing with informants, or when tactically impossible.

6. Critical-Incident Films. Filmed recordings of critical incidents shall be released to the public, upon request, within one week after witness statements have been taken unless there are mutually agreed-upon (CC4QP and MPD) extenuating circumstances.

7. MPD/Community Engagement Sessions. MPD/Community Engagement sessions should involve sessions that are held quarterly and/or as needed and, in addition to other topics, should focus on problem-oriented policing and Best Practices, especially those that have been determined by third-party research.

8. Centralized Time-Limited Receipt-Bearing Complaints. All complaints involving the Milwaukee Police Department should be made and recorded only at the Fire and Police Commission. Each complainant shall be issued a receipt specifying the time and date that the complaint was made. Complaints shall be resolved by no later than sixty (60) days after being made unless there are extenuating circumstances.

Goals and Objectives - Immediate

1. Adhere to Field Interview Protocol. This directive is needed because officers do not always treat those detained with the departmentally-required respect as specified, for example, in SOPs §§710.05, 165.00 and 117.15.

2. All individuals subjected to a field interview shall be issued Citizen Interaction Receipts. The receipts shall include the following information: (a) The name of the officer or squad who stopped the person or persons; (b) The name of the person or persons who were stopped; © The time the interaction occurred; (d) A brief description as to why the stop was made; If a pat down search was done, (e) why it was done, (f) when it was done and (g) who conducted it.

3. MPD officers should adopt the posture of being “guardians” rather than “warriors” unless exigent circumstances require otherwise. MPD officers, in developing positive police-community relations, should carry out their responsibilities, in every aspect of police work, as “guardians” who are striving to protect, empower, and relate to citizens not as “warriors,” who are there primarily to use military-style force to maintain law and order. Please see: President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. 2015. Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing. Washington, D.C: Office of Community Oriented Policing Services.

4. The role of community liaison officers (CLOs) should be expanded such that they become linking mechanisms between the police department and the community. In this regard, they would work as detached agents with residents, senior citizen’s clubs, churches, block clubs, neighborhood associations, etc., seeking to bring the values of members of these groups more in line with the goals, objectives and values of policing. Mutual problem-solving is likely to be facilitative of the crime detection and crime prevention goals of MPD. Community liaison officers should be required to demonstrate cultural competence, before and regularly during their tenure as CLOs. CLOs should also work with district attorneys deployed as community prosecutors to address neighborhood quality-of-life issues. Joint reports should be made regularly to residents regarding crime trends and available resources.

5. In addition to established department criteria, MPD officers should be evaluated on how effective they are at working in collaboration with residents and organizations in their districts in preventing and or resolving circumstances associated with the production of criminal conduct.

6. Neighborhood watch groups such as block clubs should be among the various community groups and neighborhood associations involved in MPD/Community Engagement (“listening”) Sessions.

7. Incentives should be created for officers to live in the districts they patrol or, at the least, in the City of Milwaukee such as paying non-residents less than city residents for municipal employment. Please see:

8. Change the motto of the MPD from “Be a Force” to better incorporate the notion of “Protect and Serve.”

9. Crisis Intervention Trainings (CITs) designed to enhance the ability of MPD officers to recognize symptoms of mental health problems should be continued and required.

10. “Cite and release” for minor low-level nonviolent offenses. For example, absent exigent circumstances, instead of arresting a person for low-level drug usage, or a mother for shoplifting, following which she spends time in jail, thereby creating adversity for her children subsequent to Child Protective Services and Children’s Court intervention, issue a ticket and a court date rather than incarceration.
Please see:

11. Increase the capacity/resources and enhance the role of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission to investigate and act upon the complaints of residents. This means more staff to investigate complaints, more office space within which complaints can be heard, and office space that is centralized rather than disjointed.

Goals and Objectives - Intermediate

1. Improved public confidence that all complaints will both be fully investigated and appropriate discipline provided in a transparent process.

2. Improved public confidence that MPD services will be provided in a professional, unbiased and effective manner regardless of the racial makeup of the neighborhood.

3. Every MPD officer should be able to recognize symptoms of a mental illness in the people they encounter.

4. Marginalized people should show evidence of lessened fear of contact with the police and enhanced awareness that the police are present to serve and protect.

5. Community liaison officers function as recipients of immediate neighborhood feedback, especially “tips” to the police.

6. Reduced fear among the elderly to go outside of their homes.

7. Trainings are offered regularly to commissioners by the administrative leadership of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission as to the status of the administratively-managed work of the Commission, budgetary constraints, emerging Best Practices, and the breadth of the Commission’s statutory authority.

Goals and Objectives – Long Range

Increased level of trust and respect between residents and law enforcement officials through problem-oriented policing leading to:

1. An overall reduction in crime and increased levels of public and police safety.

2. Improved quality of life for both residents and police officers.

3. Increased level of pride in the Milwaukee community by residents and police alike.

4. Increased economic investment, activity and opportunity for all (e.g., via Milwaukee being more attractive as the host of national conferences, via increased tourism, and via Milwaukee being regarded more favorably as the destination location of new businesses.)

Ultimate Goals

1. Engagement and inclusion of youth through athletic, educational and economic opportunities.

2. Increases in investment in pro-active community engagement programs and initiatives.

At a press conference held at City Hall on August 1, 2017, CC4QP announced the urgent need to:

1. Call for strong support of Milwaukee’s Fire & Police Commission (FPC).
2. Voice support for adherence to the policy stating that all material changes to Milwaukee Police Department SOPs (Standard Operating Procedures) must be ratified by the FPC and that public comment must be allowed. 
3. Request releasing to the public, as it is the property of the City, of the U.S. Department of Justice’s draft of the collaborative reform document.
4. Call for an independent audit of the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) as related MPD’s effectiveness and to the implementation and utilization of Problem-Oriented Policing principles.
5. Strongly suggest that the SOPs, goals, and objectives advocated by CC4QP be reviewed for possible ratification by the FPC (Fire and Police Commission) and subsequent implementation by MPD (Milwaukee Police Department).


Community Coalition for Quality Policing (CC4QP) Members

All Peoples Church Bishop Paul Erickson, Greater Milwaukee Synod, Evangelical Lutheran Church of America
American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin Social Development Commission (SDC)
Sherman Park Community Association The Urban League of Milwaukee
Black Health Coalition of Wisconsin, Inc. Voces de la Frontera
Felmers O. Chaney Advocacy Board (FCAB) Jewish Community Relations Council of the Milwaukee Jewish Federation (JCRC)
FORGE Inc. Islamic Dawah and Community Center (Imam Yaseen Domineck)
Interfaith Conference of Greater Milwaukee Wisconsin Black Historical Society
WISDOM League of United Latin American Citizens of Wisconsin (LULAC)
YWCA Pastors United
Wisconsin Council of Rabbis
Milwaukee LGBT Community Center
Rt. Rev. Steven Miller, Bishop of Episcopal Diocese of Milwaukee
Milwaukee Inner-City Congregations Allied for Hope (MICAH)
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People-Milwaukee Branch (NAACP)

**A draft report from US DOJ on Milwaukee Police Department recently was leaked in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. FCAB Chair McNeely summarized it:

Collaborative Reform Initiative
Milwaukee Police Department Assessment Report

U.S. Department of Justice
Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS)

MPD Police Chief Ed Flynn requested, on November 10, 2015, an assessment of MPD in helping to put it on “an accelerated path toward an `evolution of reform.’” The COPS Office agreed to assist MPD and announced that MPD was the site of Collaborative Reform on December 17, 2015.

“This assessment report is focused on MPD and the community it serves…In addition however, this report is aimed at a national audience…it contains observations, findings, and recommendations that may assist police chiefs, community leaders, police officers, and community members across the U.S. in understanding and improving the state of 0olicing where they live…this report serves as a road map for proactive organizational and cultural changes in law enforcement agencies across the United States.” (COPS Office)

Recruitment, Hiring and Personnel Practices

1. MPD (Milwaukee Police Department) does not have a racial, ethnic, and gender diversity composition through all departmental ranks and components.

2. MPD and the Fire and Police Commission (FPC) do not have a recruitment plan to ensure racial, ethnic and gender diversity within the next three to five years.

3. MPD and FPC do not have a mechanism for community input into the recruitment and hiring of MPD officers.

2015 MPD Racial and Ethnic Composition
 Men-83.1% TotalWomen-16.9% TotalTotalMilwaukee
 Number%Number%Number%All Genders %
African American24615.97523.832117.338.8
Indian/Alaska Native211.461.9271.50.4
Asian/Pacific Islander281.861.9341.93.7
Other Races80.520.6100.52.7

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, (Undated draft). Collaborative Reform Initiative: Milwaukee Police Department Assessment Report, 235 pp. (P. 30)

Community Oriented Policing Practices

1. MPD members generally do not understand their roles in community policing and rely on Community Liaison Officers (CLO) to engage in community policing activities.

2. MPD had received multiple awards and grants to address public safety through community policing; However, MPD lacks a formal, Department-wide strategy that incorporates community policing and guides the Department and its individual units in its community policing efforts, nor does it have a mechanism to measure progress in meeting community policing goals and hold all members of the Department accountable for engaging in community policing activities.

3. FPC (Fire and Police Commission) does not conduct comprehensive annual reviews of MPD policies.

Use of Force and Deadly Force

1. Most MPD officers have been trained in Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training but MPD has limited specialized training requirements for Internal Affairs Division (IAD) investigators and does not have specific guidelines for conducting use of force investigations, specifically how investigations are conducted, what evidence should be collected, and which supporting materials are to be gathered. (This can adversely affect investigations involving citizen victims.)

2. Documentation, collection, and marking of video evidence collected in use of force and deadly force investigations are inconsistent, making it difficult to determine if those investigative steps occurred or were just not documented. (This, also, can adversely affect investigations involving citizen victims.)

3. MPD policies for audio and video recording interviews are not consistent. Although policy specifies that civilian witnesses will be audio or video recorded, no such practice is specified for witness officers.

4. MPD policy states that “members with a body worn camera (BWC) shall make every effort to activate their BWC for all investigative or enforcement contacts,” allowing for discretion when the capture of video is critical. Policy should say “Officers shall record…” (Pg. 79)

5. MPD supervisors and managers do not consistently review the history of an officer involved in a use of force.

Stop and Search

1. MPD’s crime reduction strategy is data driven and relies largely on the identification of crime hot spots to deploy resources throughout the city. However, it is imperative that the Department balances such approaches against other important values for policing in a free and democratic society.

2. While our analysis did not detect officer bias, it clearly showed that MPD’s traffic enforcement practices, a key component of the department’s crime reduction strategy, have a disproportionate impact on the African-American community. There are disparities across many police districts, with particularly pronounced disparities in districts with predominantly White populations.

3. With respect to traffic stops, MPD lacks the proper oversight and accountability, as evidenced by the lack of data collection on this practice.

4. The reported practice of “curbing” individuals (asking people to sit on the curb) is a stop practice likely to be particularly inflammatory to community members. (P. 90)

5. MPD’s information system for traffic stops is cumbersome and time-consuming, which results in traffic stops taking a significant amount of time.


1. MPD’s policy does not clearly define what constitutes a serious complaint.

2. MPD policy does not require that members are notified when they are the subject of a complaint investigation.

3. MPD complaint files are poorly organized, lacking consistency, and at times incomplete.

4. MPD employees do not have clear disciplinary guidelines. Neither clear guidelines nor a disciplinary matrix are considered in disciplinary outcomes for MPD officers.

5. The MPD does not state that “the ability to testify in court with credibility” is an essential job function on the police officer job description.

6. MPD supervisors do not consistently ensure employees review, understand, and acknowledge new policies or standards when they are disseminated.

Against this backdrop, one might consider MPD’s vision statement:

“A Milwaukee where all can live safely and without fear, protected by a police department with the highest ethical and professional standards.”

1. Despite declining from 2010 to 2015, Milwaukee’s 2015 African American population now numerically exceeds all others.

2010 U.S. Census Bureau Estimates
Race and EthnicityPopulation
White (alone)266,33944.8%
African American (alone)237,76939.9%
Hawaiian/Pacific Islander (alone)2410.04%
Asian (alone)20,8513.5%
American Indian or Alaskan Native (alone)4,6950.8%
Two or more races (alone)/Other (alone)64,93810.9%

  • Percentage totals do not equal 100 percent because of various reasons, including sampling error and the fact that Hispanics may be of any race and also are counted in all applicable race categories.

Accessed from:

2. Modern law enforcement agencies need to reflect the communities they serve…the Department’s hiring has not kept pace with Milwaukee’s changing demographics. (P. 130). Despite being 38.8% of the population, African Americans constitute only 17.3 % (see previous MPD 2015 table) of MPD.

2015 U.S. Census Bureau Estimates
Race and EthnicityPopulation
African American232,86038.8%
White (not Hispanic or Latino)219,65736.6%
Hispanic/ Latino106,22717.7%
American Indian or Alaskan Native24000.4%
Two or more races16,2042.7%

* Percentage totals do not equal 100 percent because of various reasons, including sampling error.
** Estimated.

Sources: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, (Undated draft). Collaborative Reform Initiative: Milwaukee Police Department Assessment Report, 235 pp.; U.S. Census Bureau. 2016. “2010 – 2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates,” Accessed from:

July 2016 MPD Information
MPD BudgetSworn OfficersCivilian Employees
$277.6 Million1,867639

• Milwaukee’s violent crime averaged 3.24 times that of the national average for the 2010–2014 period. (P. 18)

Violent and Property Crimes, Milwaukee 2012 – 2014
 PopulationViolent CrimeProperty Crime

Violent crime totals are a combination of four offenses; murder, non-negligent manslaughter, forcible rape, and robbery/aggravated assault. Robbery/aggravated assault is considered as one offense. Property crime totals are a combination of four offenses; burglary, larceny – theft, motor vehicle theft and arson.

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, (Undated draft). Collaborative Reform Initiative: Milwaukee Police Department Assessment Report, 235 pp.

Fire and Police Commission

“FPC has a number of duties, including overseeing `all aspects of Fire Department and Police Department operations.’ Additionally, the Commission sets overall policy while the chief of each department manages daily operations and implements the Commission’s policy direction and goals.’ FPC has more specific functions that include disciplining officers for misconduct; hearing appeals from officers on discipline from the Chief of Police; investigating citizen complaints; providing policy oversight; and establishing recruitment, testing, and promotional standards for the Department.” (P. 19)

1. Wisconsin state law requires FPC to conduct a policy review of all aspects of the operations of the Police and Fire Department annually. (P. 53)

2. “MPD cannot hire, promote, or fire any sworn employee without FPC’s approval… In addition, FPC is responsible for establishing recruitment and testing standards for sworn positions within MPD.” (P. 27).

3. The lack of a strategic plan for recruitment means that FPC and MPD are not well prepared to fill vacancies and improve diversity in a …systematic way.” (P. 36)

4. “MPD recruiters are provided with no training or strategic plan to fulfill their role (p. 33)

5. Community members who are not appointed to FPC are not provided an opportunity to assist and advise in recruiting and hiring officers. MPD should develop a Recruitment and Retention Advisory Council whose members represent a cross-section of community stakeholders. The advisory council should include stakeholders from community-based organizations and other organizations. (Pp. 37 & 38)

Community Oriented Policing Practices

“Community policing is a philosophy of policing that prioritizes partnerships and problem-solving techniques. Under the community policing model, police departments proactively address the conditions that give rise to issues like crime, social disorder, and fear of crime by building ties with the community they serve… Community partnerships should include broad cross section of stakeholders, including (e.g.) community organizations, community leaders, advocates, activists, other local government offices, as well as the private sector.” (P. 40)

1. Interviews with MPD personnel revealed an inconsistent understanding of community policing and often a lack of knowledge as to who is responsible for promoting community policing…no member was aware of any Department plan to promote community policing on day-to-day basis.
2. MPD does not have a department-wide strategic plan for community policing…and individual operational units within the Department do not have written community oriented policing plans…MPD has not offered any community oriented policing courses in recent years. (Pp. 46, 47)

Community Engagement and Outreach
• Attending community meetings or giving away toys (especially on a one-time basis) does not require establishing ongoing collaborative relationships with community stakeholders to address the root causes of social issues that drive crime within Milwaukee’s neighborhoods. (P. 47)

Community Surveys

1. A consistent theme expressed by African American survey respondents is that African Americans are questioned about their presence in certain areas of the city…with some accounts even involving Milwaukee police officers being harassed when off-duty and not in uniform. (P. 51)

2. Another theme commonly expressed is that MPD officers do not know how to speak with people but instead speak at them. (P. 51)

Community Advice and Participation

  • Civilian oversight is an integral mechanism for transparency and accountability in a 21st century law enforcement agency… A civilian oversight board has the potential to build trust and credibility in the system. (Pp. 52, 53)


  • Community policing efforts tend to be disparate, relegated to the Community Prosecution Unit (community prosecutors) or Community Liaison Officers (CLOs), and opportunities to build relationships in the community may be missed…MPD should develop a formalized department-wide community policing strategy…The areas of trainings, promotion, personnel evaluations, and operations should all be incorporated into the strategy. (P. 55)

Use of Force and Deadly Force Practices

MPD officers are prohibited from viewing any data recorded by their body cameras or in-car cameras in the event of a critical incident (any incident involving a MPD member resulting in death or great bodily harm), unless approved by the external investigator or the chief. (P. 63, 64)

1. Involved officers were allowed to review statements given during the criminal investigation before the administrative investigation is conducted. (P. 71)

2. African Americans are disproportionately impacted by MPD use of force. While comprising approximately 39 percent of the population, they comprise 75 percent of all use of force subjects…This disparity can be attributable to the deployment of resources throughout the city. (P. 72)

3. African American subjects are 118 percent more likely than white subjects to have a chemical agent used against them by MPD…No significant relationships were found, however, for other use of force types (strikes and takedown maneuvers), including electronic control devices and deadly force. (P. 72)

Citizen Stop and Search Practices
1. While it is true that data-driven policing (Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Safety -DDACTS) strategies such as hotspots (Compare Statistics – COMPSTAT), that focus on places, are generally found to be effective, it is also worth noting that what police do at hotspots can vary widely. (P. 89)

2. MPD’s traffic stop program is marked by significant racial disparities but evidence of bias was not found in officers’ decisions although African Americans are stopped three times more than White residents but account for only two percent more of the City’s population. (P. 90)

Race/Ethnicity of Drivers Compared to Race/Ethnicity of Selected District Populations, 2013 – 2015
 White Pop.Traffic StopsBlack Pop.Traffic StopsHispanic Pop.Traffic StopsOther Pop.Traffic Stops Unk.Totals
Dist. 333.3%12.4%51.2%80.5%6.54%3.3%8.96%2.1%1.8%100%
Dist. 515.6%11.5%75.69%83.8%5.42%2.5%3.29%1.3%0.9%100%
Dist. 725.1%7.5%65.26%89.1%3.6%1.6%6.04%1.4%0.5%100%

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, (Undated draft). Collaborative Reform Initiative: Milwaukee Police Department Assessment Report, 235 pp. P. 91

When data were aggregated for all of the police districts reporting findings to the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, the total stops by race are as reported below:

Totals for Race/Ethnicity of Drivers by Total MPD Traffic Stops, 2013 – 2015
White Traffic StopsBlack Traffic StopsHispanic Traffic StopsOther StopsUnknownTotal
93,987 Total291,684 Total57,452 Total11,645 Total7,993462,761

Source: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, (Undated draft). Collaborative Reform Initiative: Milwaukee Police Department Assessment Report, 235 pp. P. 91

3. Additionally, African Americans were 2.02 times more likely between 2013 – 2015 to be searched compared to White drivers…Hispanic drivers were 2.23 times more likely to be searched than White drivers. African Americans and Hispanics were also significantly more likely to be issued a citation and arrested as the result of a traffic stop. (P.91). Interestingly, MPD personnel are aware that issuing warnings rather than citations is likely to mitigate the impact of the traffic stops on communities where (often time-consuming) traffic stops are most prevalent. (P. 87)

4. African American residents were searched more than all other racial and ethnic groups… 84 percent of all searches that occurred from 2013–2015 involved African American residents (P. 93) but White residents were found with contraband 21.7 percent of the time when searched by the police while African American individuals were found with contraband 13.3 percent of the time. The disparity in the discovery of contraband exists despite the fact that African American individuals were searched more than five times more frequently than White individuals. (P. 94)

Systems for Supervision, Accountability, Organizational Learning, Remediation, and Discipline

1. Department members state that messages and direction come from the top through the rank and file without reasoning or explanation, and the rank and file are simply instructed to follow the new directives. (P. 107)

2. Senior command does not solicit the rank and file for their opinions on how to improve the Department and provides contradictory information. (P. 107)

3. MPD personnel state that they have to decide whether they can pursue (pursuit policy) with little or no direction on this policy, which is confusing. (P. 107)

4. Department personnel perceive favoritism within MPD regarding supervisors allowing staff favorites to attend trainings while others are overlooked, and regarding assignments and promotions. (P. 107)

5. Sergeants described a general belief that the chief does not want to hear officers’ concerns. (P. 107)

6. MPD personnel reported that dispatchers have a reputation for being unnecessarily difficult when community members call 911. (P. 107)

7. MPD does not provide training to supervisors and command staff on how to hold officers accountable for community policing efforts. (P. 108)

8. Officers reported the perception that the Department does not care about business checks or handling serious incidents because the Department only wants the traffic stop numbers. (P. 108)

9. Require obtaining in-car videos, body-worn camera videos, booking or district station videos or videos maintained by businesses, and any audio recordings. Summarize what was seen and heard rather than only including videos as (MPD) supporting documentation. (P. 125)

10. FPC should consider adopting additional models of independent civilian oversight (for) auditing, investigating, or reviewing internal affairs or discipline cases. (P. 125)

11. MPD employees ae not clear on exiting disciplinary guidelines used nor what behaviors result in what disciplinary outcomes. (P. 125)

Selected System for Supervision and Accountability Conclusion

1. MPD’s attention to crime data has distracted the Department from the primary tenet of modern policing: trust between law enforcement agencies and the people they protect and serve. (P. 130)

2. MPD does not have in place…a community oriented policing (nor) a process for engaging command staff and officers in their responsibility to engage in problem-solving and build community relations. (P. 131)

3. The Department does not have a strategic plan or policy that ensures the practical steps of responding to, investigating, reviewing, reporting, and collecting data for incidents of officer use of force, including deadly force. As a result, the Department lacks accountability and transparency in how it investigates and reports on officer use of force and (fails to) ensure oversight of these investigations. (P. 131)

4. MPD’s data driven policing strategy has a disparate impact on minority community members. The large concentration of traffic stops in the African American community has caused tension between that community and MPD…MPD’s strategy appears to be working on paper – some data seem to show the positive effects of this policing tactic – but it may be missing the larger point of public safety: building relationships and developing trust. (P. 132)

5. MPD performs community-complaint investigations in an inconsistent, untimely, and inadequate manner…Moreover, Department policy and procedures do not clearly articulate requirements for handling notifications and outcomes (to complainants). (P. 132)

Selected Next Steps

1. MPD needs to develop a formal department-wide strategy that incorporates community policing and guides the Department and its individual units in its community policing efforts. (P. 134)

2. MPD should create a permanent community advisory board to assist the Department in developing its community policing strategy, among other responsibilities. (P. 134)

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Last edited by patricia obletz. Based on work by Tyler Schuster.  Page last modified on March 27, 2018

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