I just listened to the story about the Milwaukee Police Department under Chief Ed Flynn that aired on This American Life. There was a shocking disconnection from the supposed idealism of Flynn to the horrible incidents of brutality perpetrated by his police. There were illegal cavity searches performed in public to humiliate and degrade black men. Imagine some man feeling he has the authority to sexually violate you and you have no recourse? No way to way what is happening to your body as your neighbors watch? Can you understand how police department would stand behind these men who were committing sexual assault? Can you see how this mess of a department would then vote no confidence against a chief who fired an officer whose actions led to an unnecessary death, that of Dontre Hamilton, whose supporters and family continue to demand justice?
After so many years, we have a system that many people distrust. The title of this blog is taken from a statement about the unpredictable nature of Milwaukee policing. I do not trust the police and I feel many people have good reason not to. The few reforms that Ed Flynn tried did not go far enough. And yet, the cops who are frightened by the calls for greater accountability are frightened.
By the way, last night I listened to the second part of the This American Life look at the police in America and it told of Las Vegas, Nevada making a dramatic turn around in the number of police involved shootings. Police were forced to examine their inherit biases about why they stopped certain people and the techniques worked. Milwaukee can go from an unpredictable, under trained police force to one that is better equipped to handle life and death situations. For now, if you are young and African-American, I suggest being wary of the Milwaukee Police Department.