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Calls for Better Police-Community Relations in Milwaukee, Nothing New

Marge Pitrof (2009)

Years ago, William Gore told WUWM that tensions were building for decades. Gore was the second black man to serve on the Fire and Police Commission.

Gore moved to the city in the late 1950s, after being recruited to work here as an adult probation officer. He later worked at the county's mental health complex and joined the commission, serving from 1973 to 1988.

“Milwaukee’s police department had a strong national reputation for a period of time, plus the city was viewed by a lot of people in the city and outside the city, as the safest in America. So the police department had some strong points which fed the notion that, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

But while that was happening, the demographics in the community were changing, quite a bit. Blacks were moving in; their numbers were growing. To a lesser extent, but also significantly, Hispanics were beginning to move in; there had been American Indians all the time. (The MPD wasn't) paying any attention to the demographics, to an extent. And so, slowly but surely, the police department was reaching the point where it was not able to relate effectively to significant segments of the community, with emphasis on minority group people.

"Further, the majority of people were not bothered by the fact that black people were bottled-up in the central city, in the ghetto, like citizens were defeated persons who needed to be kept in their place. That was one of the raps, large and growing in the police department," Gore said, of Milwaukee, in the late 1950s and onward, last century.

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