The Milwaukee Common Council's Public Safety and Health Committee is urging the Fire and Police Commission to adopt a number of changes in police procedures and recruitment efforts.
At Thursday’s special meeting, Alderman Khalif Rainey said he wants Milwaukee police to be required to report every time they pull their gun, mace or taser while on duty. Under Rainey’s proposal, officers would also have to report where the incident occurred.
Rainey said having a gun pointed at you — or even a taser —is a significant event and that having data could do a lot of good. “I believe that it could highlight potential red flags where we as a police department could avoid some police brutality issues in the community. Ultimately, I think at the end of the day it would be a deterrent from officers over abusing the gun,” he said.
Police are already required to report when they use force, but not when they pull their gun, mace or taser but do not use it. Nicholas DeSiato, the Milwaukee Police Department's chief of staff, told Common Council members there are already mechanisms in place to examine the actions of officers if their behavior is disputed. He said body cameras are one example.
DeSiato also said that the unwarranted pulling of weapons is not an issue locally or nationally. “This is something that I think is well intentioned but from an administrative side as well as just the overall burden on our officers as well as our sergeants, that are certainly strapped for capacity . This would bog down from their responsibilities when we have those other failsafes,” he said.
The committee approved urging the Fire and Police Commission to make the change, with four members voting in favor and one person abstaining. The panel also passed a resolution asking the commission to collaborate with the police department to engage with community leaders as a means of rebuilding trust.
And committee members approved a measure asking the commission to increase efforts to recruit people from Milwaukee for the police and fire departments.
Members of the committee agreed that both departments could be more diverse and reflective of the community they serve. That’s one of the things some protesters locally have been calling for in the wake of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.