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Leaked Federal Report Raises Community Concerns Over Milwaukee Police

US DOJ: Collaborative Reform Program Being Evaluated

By
Fred Royal, president of the Milwaukee NAACP
Chuck Quirmbach/WPR

A final report on the Milwaukee Police Department is on hold, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. But a newly leaked draft report about policies is prompting community concern.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn asked for the federal review nearly two years ago after a now-fired white officer fatally shot a black man.

A draft report written last year, but recently obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, criticizes Milwaukee police for racial disparities in traffic stops and a lack of diversity in its force.

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The report found African-Americans are stopped three times more than white residents, and also noted 17 percent of the police force is black, although 39 percent of the city’s population is African-American.

The report also states the department fails in its community policing efforts.

The Justice Department won’t say if a final version will be released while Attorney General Jeff Sessions evaluates what’s called the Collaborative Reform program.

In a statement Wednesday, the Justice Department said:

“During the last administration, the Collaborative Reform program often produced draft reports, often created by contractors and sent to the Department, which in their draft form did not necessarily reflect any final conclusions of the Department. No draft concerning the Milwaukee Police Department was ever finalized or adopted by the Department, and reliance on any such draft would be unwarranted. The entire Collaborative Reform program remains under review by the Justice Department to ensure that the program is aligned with the Attorney General’s principles outlined in his March 31, 2017 memorandum regarding support for local law enforcement.”

The stance disappoints Fred Royal, president of the Milwaukee NAACP.

Royal says the draft calls for the city’s Fire and Police Commission to evaluate the police every year.

“So if the Justice Department isn’t willing to do that, then our Fire and Police Commission, which is the statutory authority as the oversight body, has and is required to do an annual policy review,” Royal said.

He said the commission would help scrutinize nine problem areas outlined in the preliminary document, including traffic stop quotas, internal affairs investigations and early identification of troubled officers.

“Those are areas of deep concern when you’re talking about improving not only community relations with police officers, but actively deterring crime, having a solid public safety plan, especially with a police department that takes up $320 million of the city’s budget,” Royal said.

In a written statement issued Wednesday, Milwaukee Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton said:

“The findings indicated in the draft Collaborative Reform Report reinforces the urgency that we all must have to recognize there are clear challenges with police-community relations and the publics’ perception of police legitimacy in Milwaukee. The data in the draft report pertaining to the disparities in misconduct complaints filed against officers, racial disparities in traffic stops, use of force by police officers and disciplinary action for misconduct, or the lack thereof, is also something that we must pay attention to… It is important at this time for the Milwaukee Police Department to take ownership for instances when community trust has been broken, take an honest look at the work that needs to be done, and make a commitment to address these concerns with fidelity and transparency.”

Flynn contends the draft report contains inaccurate data.

Editor’s Note: The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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