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Racial Gap Continues in Milwaukee Stop-and-Frisk Practices

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Wisconsin is accusing the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) of not complying with key provisions of a five-year-old settlement that mandated an end to racial profiling stop-and-frisk practices, News From The States reports. Citing the latest annual report from the Crime and Justice Institute, which evaluates police compliance with the 2018 Collins settlement, the ACLU noted that the rate of stop-and-frisk encounters with Black Milwaukeeans remains far higher than for other races. “The report also finds that MPD officers continue to stop and frisk people without reasonable suspicion, as required by law, at rates that violate the settlement,” the ACLU said. Black residents of driving age, the report found, are 4.5 times more likely to be stopped than white drivers, over 10 times as likely to undergo a non-traffic field interview by officers, eight times more likely to experience a frisk-based encounter, and over twice as likely to be frisked once stopped by law enforcement.

The Collins settlement required the police department and Fire and Police Commission (FPC) to change policies related to stop and frisk. MPD was required to document when the tactic is used as well as improve training, supervision, and auditing. The settlement required the department to discipline officers for inappropriate stop-and-frisk practices. MPD’s citizen complaint process was required to be overhauled, and a Milwaukee Community Collaborative Committee was supposed to be maintained. As part of the settlement, MPD was also required to release stop and frisk data publicly, use an independent consultant to evaluate compliance with the settlement and eliminate racial bias among its force. Besides stripping the FPC of its policy-making power, the bill, “also grants law enforcement unions in the state additional influence over the candidates selected to serve on the Commission." The city has struggled to set systems of accountability to demonstrate compliance with the settlement. While some point to crime rates in Milwaukee as a reason for high rates of stop-and-frisk encounters in minority communities, the report says otherwise. When accounting for relative crime rates, "... officers conduct frisks more often in Black and Hispanic/Latino neighborhoods than in white neighborhoods,” the report states.


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