Justice Department announces Milwaukee Police Dept. review

The Wisconsin Gazette

The U.S. Justice Department’s Community Oriented Policing Services this week announced the start of the “collaborative reform initiative” with the Milwaukee Police Department.

“The COPS Office will conduct a thorough, independent and objective assessment of the Milwaukee Police Department’s policies, practices and accountability systems,” said COPS office director Ronald Davis in a news release. “The findings and recommendations that come from such an assessment will empower the community to hold the department accountable to the best standards of the law enforcement profession.” 

Following the assessment, the COPS Office will issue a public report detailing the findings, along with recommendations for improvement.

The COPS Office will assess implementation of recommendations over an 18-month period following the initial assessment.

The Justice Department said the program is an independent way to transform a law enforcement agency through an analysis of policies, practices, training, tactics and accountability methods.

The initiative is designed to provide technical assistance to agencies facing significant law enforcement-related issues.

U.S. Rep. Gwen Moore, a Democrat from Milwaukee, said in a prepared statement,  “I am encouraged by Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn’s decision to request this investigation and I am hopeful that the recommendations made by the U.S. Department of Justice will help the Milwaukee Police Department better serve our community. Given the number of high profile incidences in my district, including the deaths of Dontre Hamilton and Derek Williams, change in our current system is long overdue. We must do everything we can to strengthen the relationship between the citizens of Milwaukee and those who have sworn to protect them.”

Moore added, “However, I remain deeply concerned about allegations of racial profiling and ‘stop and frisk’ style policies that I fear are deeply imbedded in our current policing strategy. While this Office of Community Oriented Policing Services review represents a promising step forward, it does not involve the type of in-depth legal investigation I have called for through the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. In the past, I have advocated for a full ‘pattern and practice’ review of the Milwaukee Police Department to broker the change many of my constituents feel is needed.”

The COPS Office is providing a review and recommendations in Spokane, Washington; Philadelphia; St. Louis County; Salinas, California; Fayetteville, North Carolina, and Calexico, California, and has completed the process in Las Vegas. 

The COPS office is a federal agency responsible for advancing community policing nationwide.