Acting Police Chief Jeffrey Norman answers questions from public at hearing
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Thursday night, acting Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman took another step towards securing the position as he took questions from the community. This was the second of three public comment sessions, and touched on familiar themes.
The meeting was held virtually and lasted more than an hour and a half. Questions were read by a moderator, so community members were not able to address the interim chief directly, but he did weigh in on a wide range of topics.
Several public questions focused on the stop-and-frisk settlement agreement. Interim Chief Norman said, "I don't want to underplay that we have still more work to do. This is not something that we can rest and say we've gotten it right, but I will say there is significant improvement."
The Crime and Justice Institute's semi-annual report was released Thursday. Interim Chief Norman said it showed improvement in several categories, but the ACLU of Wisconsin says data shows MPD stops and frisks Black and Latinx people at significantly higher rates than white people.
Other questions from the community touched on reckless driving and police chases, gun violence prevention, helping young people and how to better serve communities of color. Interim Chief Norman said, "Yes, we are responsible for calls for service, but that's not the only moment an officer should be having contact with our Black and brown and many other parts of our community, because we're responding to a diverse community."
The department is losing 25 officers next year. Thursday morning the Common Council's Finance and Personnel committee voted to use taxpayer dollars to pay for 195 additional police recruits, which prompted questions about recruitment and representation. Interim Chief Norman said, "There are people in our profession we are not proud of. We're working to build that legitimacy and accountability with our residents who are not happy with some of the acts they have seen in the course of their lifetime."
Norman says he's proud of the dedicated members of the force, and needs more people to step up and help change the narrative. The last question of the night asked how he can earn the public's support. Interim Chief Norman said, "I know we can do more. But working with you all and understanding this is a collaborative approach together, being at the table together, we can do it."
The third and final community comment session is scheduled for this Saturday at 10 a.m., in person at Anodyne Coffee Roasting on West Bruce Street. The Fire and Police Commission says while Interim Chief Norman is not guaranteed the job, there are no other candidates.