Community organizations, Milwaukee police union react to FPC ban on chokeholds

NOW: Community organizations, Milwaukee police union react to FPC ban on chokeholds

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission has banned the use of police chokeholds entirely. 

Previously, officers were not allowed to use chokeholds, with the exception of life or death situations. 

"I think FPC commissioners listened to the public," said Fred Royal, first vice president of the Milwaukee Branch of the NAACP, an organization in favor of a total ban on chokeholds.

During an hour of public comment at the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission meeting Thursday night, nearly 40 people asked the commission to vote in favor of the ban.

"I think the current mood of the country is that police reform is needed now more so than ever," said Royal.

"This was a moment where we could see some tangible change," said Angela Lang, the executive director for Black Leaders Organizing for Communities, or BLOC. "Hopefully this leads to more long-term conversations about other policies that can be audited."

In a statement, the Milwaukee Police Department said, "The Milwaukee Police Department respects the decision of the Fire & Police Commission and appreciates the opportunity to have continued dialogue on important issues. We remain committed to partnering with the community and our law enforcement stakeholders to ensure public safety in the City of Milwaukee."

When asked if an officer would be disciplined or terminated from MPD if they used a chokehold, even in a life or death situation, a spokesperson said, "All disciplinary matters are reviewed on a case-by-case manner."

"My position is, I'm all for anything that's for preservation of life, whether it's a citizen's life or a police officer's life," said Milwaukee City Attorney Tearman Spencer, "For sure, we're trying to keep in tow with the movement of the rest of the nation, with respect to what they feel is appropriate or not appropriate, but by all means, if an officer is a situation do what's necessary to save his own life, by all means, I think everyone afforded the right to go to work and come back the same way that they went, and that includes officers. Officers are citizens, too."

When asked if officers would legally be able to use a chokehold in a life or death situation with the ban in place, Spencer said everything has to be taken into consideration on a case-by-case basis. 

"So until we have an issue that we're confronted with, a case that would have to be dealt with, you have to deal with it at that, but by no means of the imagination do you want anyone to put their life at peril, so you, me, officers, you want to them to be able to protect themselves," said Spencer. 

"I’m very disappointed. I’m very frustrated with the FPC in what they did," said Dale Bormann, Jr., president of the Milwaukee Police Association. 

"It’s very unfortunate that our officers are out on the street and as a last resort, because it’s never been done on duty as far as I know in 25 years, as a last resort they should be allowed to use a chokehold to save their own life or somebody else’s life if it needs to be."

Bormann said he's always been a big proponent that if someone does use a chokehold that the department or DOJ should investigate it. 

He says he's talked with the union's attorneys about their legal options and are looking at "every legal option possible."

"If they feel that we can go after them, I’m going after them. I’m going after the FPC, I’m going after anybody who supported chokehold bans. I have to and I have to do whatever it takes to protect my officers to make sure their careers are not ended if they end up using a chokehold," he said. 

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