Whyare Milwaukees Black elected officials hiding?

Mayor Tom Barretts police body camera plan lacksaccountability; only one aldermanhassaid anything

ByChris JohnsonandRobert Miranda, KINGFISHmke

September 8, 2015

Last week, just days after Mayor Tom Barretts announcement of allocating one million dollars in the citys upcoming budget for body cameras for the Milwaukee Police Department,the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel(MJS)published an articlein which isstatedthattheMayorspolice body camerainitiative allowed police officers the discretion to turn off the camerasfor certain sensitive calls.

Many concerns andquestions aroseamong Milwaukee’s Black activistsafter this announcement, some questioning the rationale of allowing police officers to turn off the cameras at will. While some individuals spokein support of the Mayor’s plan, many others havereservations.

Of key concern is the issue of what is defined as sensitive moments?

Are law enforcement officers to use discretion to shut off the camera when engaging in matters likedomestic violence and witness identity protection?

There are many who are in complete outrage at the mayor’s plan to allow Milwaukee police to shut off the body cameras. Many of themstat ed that, if the police officers can turn off the cameras with discretion,the idea of the body cameras are a waste of time and money.

In addition to the aforementioned concerns, otherquestions like what aresensitive calls?Who determines what asensitive callis”? And willpolice officersberequired to get permission before they turn off the cameras, are being asked around the community.

One intriguingquestionwe thought merited to be asked is, if the police officer determines that he is responding to a sensitive call andturns off his body camera, can citizens request that the camera be turnedbackonfor their own protection when they are engaging with police?

Theconcern ofwhat measures are in place topreventpolice officers from turning off the body cameras to cover up unprofessional behaviorandcrimesagainst citizenshas not been addressed, but was discussed in anhttp://fox6now.com/2015/09/03/questions-concerns-over-body-cameras-for-mpd-addressed-during-meeting-of-fire-police-commission/ articleafter the most recent Fire and Police Commission(FP&C)in which Nate Hamilton, the brother ofunarmedDontre Hamilton, who was shot multiple times and killed by a former Milwaukee police officer in April 2014,summed upwhat many believe to be true:Body camera discretion is stupid.

This leads us to the question at hand, why are Milwaukees Black elected officials hiding?In thisvitally importantdiscussion aboutpolicebody cameras there has been nocommunicationfrom any of theBlackelected officials in the Common Council, the very body that has to approve the body camera budget, except one.Ald. Joe Davis.

The silence, that is clearly evident after several days since the mayor’s decree, continues despite the fact that the most affected population of police abuse is the Black population in Milwaukee. Why?

Alderman Davis put out a press release after the FP&Cmeeting, raising the issue of police officers having discretion to turn offbody cameras as defeating the most effective benefitof the police body camera initiative, that being of building the trust between communities of color, in particular Blacks and Hispanics, and the Milwaukee Police Department.

None of the other Black alderman has said a word. What kind of representative government do Black people inMilwaukee have when we have Black representatives staying silent in a very important matter such as this?

Has local governance simply become a popularity contestbased on name recognition, nice attire and likability?

Are we to accept the idea that we have no real genuine representation at City Hall? Are these elected representatives there to look flashy in order to receive a decent salary that they would most likely not be able to attainoutside of the halls of municipal government?

The fact that no one other than Alderman Davis has said a word about how being able to turn off the cameras defeats the entire purpose of having them. NotAshanti Hamilton,Milele Coggs, Willie Wade or Russell Stamper, Jr. For the record, neither did any of the Hispanic alderpersons, Jose Perez or Robert Puente.

So why are they hiding?

After approving taxpayer dollars for high budget projects like the $100+ millionthree-mile-long downtown street car, which does notguaranteejobs in any of the Black alderpersons districts and has no plans of reaching those communities to connect thoseconstituentswith jobs; after approving hundreds of millions oftaxpayersdollars for the lakefront and downtown real estate development projects where very few Blacks and Hispanics live or work; after an expected upcoming approval of $47 million oftaxpayersdollars for the New York billionaire Bucks owners stadium, once again with no guarantees of job creation in their constituents communities, our Black alderpersons appear to be distracted or compromised.

Their silence makes it abundantly clear who these alderpersons are representing, and it is not their constituents!

This is why they are hiding:they do not wanttheir constituents tofindout what they are doing, or better yet, what theyare not doing.

If these alderpersons continue to hide andsay nothing about police officers being able to turn off body camerasat their discretion, itwill bejust another reminder of how theseelected officialsare not representingtheir constituents. And maybethese elected officialsneed to be reminded of who they are supposed to beadvocating forthis coming April when it is time forspringelections.

Severalof those alderpersons already haveopponentswhohave filed the necessary paperworkdeclaringtheir interest to runfor office,someof whom are formidableand could prove to be quite challenging.More to come on thatlater,clickhereforthelist of candidates who have filedthus far.We will keep you updated.

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Last edited by Tyler Schuster.   Page last modified on September 08, 2015

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