The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin and the city of Milwaukee have reached a tentative $1.9 million settlement in a lawsuit alleging the city police department’s stop-and-frisk policy unfairly targets minorities.
The city’s Judiciary and Legislation Committee unanimously approved the settlement earlier this week, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
The agreement must next receive approval from the full Common Council and Mayor Tom Barrett.
“Now it’s up to the city to make things right and go forward and hopefully we’ll never have a situation like this again,” said Alderman Mark Borkowski, chairman of the committee. “There will be new policies, new procedures and so there is a silver lining. But obviously it never should have gotten to this stage.”
The ACLU of Wisconsin filed the lawsuit in February 2017, alleging that Milwaukee police frequently stops thousands of minorities without cause or suspicion.
The lawsuit alleged violations of the Fourth Amendment, which requires police to have a “reasonable suspicion” that a person committed a crime or is dangerous. The suit also alleged the stop-and-frisks were in violation of the 14th amendment because they were influenced by race.
The settlement requires the Milwaukee Police Department and the Fire and Police Commission to reform stop-and-search practices, improve data collection and provide more training on stops and searches. A consultant will observe the city’s actions for five years to ensure compliance with the agreement.
“The reforms in this agreement will advance fairness and equal treatment of people of all racial and ethnic backgrounds in the conduct of police stops and frisks in Milwaukee,” said Chris Ott, ACLU of Wisconsin’s executive director.
Most of the monetary settlement will go toward litigation costs, particularly for expert witnesses and depositions, Ott said.