From Failure to Freedom - Policing Must Change In Our City
An Open Letter To: Mayor Tom Barrett, Common Council Members, and Fire and Police Commission Members, and residents of the city of Milwaukee.
As youth of color most affected by over-policing in Milwaukee, we welcome the opportunity to hire a new Chief of Police who will champion a public health approach toward improving the underlying social conditions that cause crime in this city, not only focus on their symptoms.
Milwaukee currently has an officer to 10,000 resident ratio of 31.5, well above the 24.3 average for fellow cities over 500,000 residents. This over-policing is counterproductive. It redirects taxpayer resources desperately needed in poor communities to perpetuate a criminal justice pipeline that systemically incarcerates Milwaukee black males at the highest rate in the country. This resource pipeline must be reversed.
We believe that for Milwaukee to have truly safe and healthy neighborhoods, we must invest in the communities hardest hit by crime and poverty. Over investing in law enforcement with 50% of the City’s general purpose budget has not improved the underlying causes and inequities of crime. All Milwaukee residents deserve the freedom to thrive, yet our communities of color have been robbed to fund their own oppression.
Representation. A Chief of Police who represents the Milwaukee’s majority of residents of color.
Investment in Prevention. A twenty five percent reduction in the direct police budget and creation of a community controlled crime prevention fund that strengthens city youth services, access to mental health service, public education funding, and a jobs program.
No Police In Schools. A Chief of Police who commits to ending the School Resource Officer program and redirects funds into Milwaukee Public Schools for trauma-informed training and staffing.
Youth Voice. The creation of two new spots on the Fire and Police Commission designated for ‘opportunity youth’ who represent and can advocate for Milwaukee’s youth population.
End Structural Racism. A Chief of Police who respects that effective policing is built upon relationships with Milwaukee’s majority POC communities and thus:
- Commits to reducing data-driven policing that leads to racial profiling
- Commits to re-evaluating all current police officers for racial biases
- Commits to removing shoot to kill methods from their training, and promoting non lethal methods of engagement
Stop Over-policing. A Chief of Police who recognizes the threat of over-policing poor, LGBTQ, and communities of color and thus:
- Commits to eliminating all police seizures and redirecting any repossessions to a community controlled crime prevention fund
- Commits to ending quotas which incentivize unnecessary fines and arrests
- Commits to the immediate demilitarization of Milwaukee Police Department by removing military surplus equipment, banning of further purchases, and use the funds from the liquidation to expand funding for the City’s Earn and Learn Program
Address Mental Illness. A Chief of Police who understands that people experiencing drug addiction, homelessness, and mental illness are criminalized by police and thus:
Commits to working with public health experts to reform training on mental illness
Commits to employing mental health workers in all responder teams and crisis scenarios
Commits to partnering with community advocates on emergency and long-term solutions for our gaps in shelter, psychiatry services, and substance abuse treatment
Open Data. A Chief of Police who prioritizes accountability through transparency and thus:
- Commits to making all data sets available on the web in real-time for community residents to review, analyze for racial biases, and use to improve the health of their communities
- Commits to improving the speed of fulfilling any community requests for information