Tag Archives: Milwaukee police

Mayor Barrett wants to equip all MPD officers on the street with body cameras by end of 2016

All Milwaukee police officers on the street would be wearing body cameras by the end of 2016 under a proposal announced July 30 by Mayor Tom Barrett.

The proposal, first reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (http://bit.ly/1JqBjAX ), comes after tense episodes between police and Milwaukee’s African-American community and fatal shootings by police in Ferguson, Missouri; Cleveland; and North Charleston, South Carolina, that sparked discussion nationwide about race and policing. Last year, 31-year-old Dontre Hamilton was fatally shot by a Milwaukee police officer in a downtown park.

According to Barrett’s preliminary budget, body cameras for 1,200 Milwaukee street officers — including storage of video information — would cost $880,000 in 2016 and about $1 million a year beginning in 2017.

The estimated cost is about what it would cost to add 12 officers to the department’s ranks of 1,880 sworn officers, Barrett told the newspaper.

“The question is: Is it worth 12 officers?” the mayor asked. “That’s a legitimate public policy debate.”

He added: “I embrace it wholeheartedly, both from a fiscal standpoint and from a policy standpoint.”

Both Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn and the president of the Milwaukee Police Association, Mike Crivello, support the initiative.

“If that’s OK with (citizens), it’s sure OK with us because, from the average officer’s point of view, it’s going to overwhelmingly put in context what they’re dealing with, what they try to do and what actually happens,” Flynn said at Marquette University last week.

“We’re looking forward to getting them,” he said.

Appearing with the mayor on July 30, Flynn said Milwaukee police officers will have discretion to turn off the cameras for certain sensitive calls as part of a new department policy on use of the devices.

“This is new territory for American citizens as well as for police departments, and balancing a reasonable expectation of privacy when you summon the police department to deal with a family crisis has to be balanced with our need to be accountable and transparent,” Flynn said.

Crivello said there is “no doubt” the cameras “will absolutely depict the professionalism that our officers display on a daily basis.”

If Barrett’s proposal is approved, Milwaukee would join a growing number of police departments nationwide that are considering the use of body cameras or already outfitting some officers.

Attorney Robin Shellow represents some of the more than 60 people who have filed civil rights lawsuits against the City of Milwaukee and the Police Department alleging improper strip and cavity searches. While Shellow said she supports body cameras for police, she thinks more needs to be done.

“Yes, I believe in body cameras, but more importantly I think we should have police officers with college educations,” Shellow said. “I think that would do a lot more to reduce unconstitutional interactions.”

Milwaukee police board will take up Manney appeal in March

A former Milwaukee police officer who is appealing his firing after he shot and killed an unarmed man in a park last year will have a trial before the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners in March.

Christopher Manney was fired in October, months after he shot Dontre Hamilton.

Manney, who is white, said he acted in self-defense when he shot Hamilton 14 times in April.

But police Chief Edward Flynn said Manney ignored department policy and treated Hamilton, who is black, like a criminal by frisking him. Hamilton’s family has said the man suffered from schizophrenia.

The police commissioners’ board says it initially set a trial date for Feb. 27, but both sides requested an adjournment. So the trial will now be held in March. A final date hasn’t been set.

Officer who shot Dontre Hamilton 14 times is fired

After six months of inaction that inspired demonstrations and widened the wedge between Milwaukee police and the city’s black citizens, Police Chief Edward Flynn fired an officer who killed a mentally ill man in downtown’s Red Arrow Park.

Flynn said Officer Christopher Manney, 38, instigated a fight with Dontre Hamilton, 31, before firing 14 shots into the unarmed man’s body.  Activists have compared the shooting with the slaying of Michael Brown, an unarmed, black 18-year-old gunned down by an officer in Ferguson, Missouri.

Hamilton was sleeping in a downtown park when Manney responded to a call for a welfare check and began a patdown. Flynn said Hamilton resisted and the two exchanged punches and strikes before Hamilton hit Manney on the neck with Manney’s baton. Manney then shot Hamilton.

Flynn said that while Manney correctly identified Hamilton as someone who was emotionally disturbed, he ignored his training and police policy and treated him as a criminal.

“You don’t go hands-on and start frisking somebody only because they appear to be mentally ill,” Flynn said during a news conference announcing the firing.

Hamilton’s family has said he was diagnosed with schizophrenia but was not violent, and they doubt he struck Manney. They called Wednesday for police to release photographs documenting the officer’s injuries. They also said that while the firing was “a victory,” they would continue to lead and participate in marches in an effort to persuade the district attorney to bring criminal charges.

“Yes, he was fired, but he took a man’s life,” Hamilton’s mother, Maria, said during a separate news conference.

His brother, Nate Hamilton, said the family remains hurt and their grief would not ease until they feel justice is done.

“Dontre did not attack this man, he did not have to shoot Dontre at all,” the brother said.

The Wisconsin Division of Criminal Investigation investigated Hamilton’s death under a state law that requires an outside investigator to review all officer-involved deaths. The Milwaukee County district attorney’s office has asked an unnamed investigator to do a second review, and an attorney for Hamilton’s family said he was told the FBI is looking into it as well.

Flynn said his decision was based on an internal affairs investigation. He sidestepped questions about whether Manney should face criminal charges. He said he found “errors of judgment, but no malice” in Manney’s handling of the confrontation.

“There’s got to be a way for us to hold ourselves accountable absent putting cops in jail for making mistakes,” he said.

About 400 officers, or less than one-fourth of the department, have received the full, recommended 40 hours of Crisis Intervention Team training considered the model for dealing with people who are emotionally distressed. Flynn said that starting next year, all officers will receive at least 16 hours of training.

The Milwaukee Police Association condemned the firing.

“The decision to terminate this officer is cowardice and certainly unfounded and unsupported by fact,” President Mike Crivello said in a statement.

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