Milwaukee law enforcement leaders discuss civil unrest at roundtable event

NOW: Milwaukee law enforcement leaders discuss civil unrest at roundtable event

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Nationwide protests sparked by the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis have shined a light on the relationship between police and communities they serve.

Local law enforcement leaders held a roundtable Wednesday, July 8, to discuss civil unrest in Milwaukee. 

The Milwaukee FBI hosted law enforcement leaders to discuss how to improve community relations and avoid an "us vs.them" mentality. 

"If we ever close our ears and close our eyes and we don't want to listen to people, we're going to lose," said Special Agent in Charge, Robert Hughes. 

Police defended their handling of protests, as many have called rubber bullets, tear gas and restraining tactics against peaceful protesters unnecessary.

"Have we been perfect in our execution? Without a doubt, we have not. But we've adjusted. I made some changes," said Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas. 

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales says it's important to draw a distinction between how they handle peaceful protests and how they handle the less frequent looting and violence.

It's anger for some people and it's protest to get their message out," said Chief Morales. "For others, it's something to do. It's a party for criminal activity."

Sheriff Lucas says it's important for peaceful protesters to stay safe if people around them start inciting violence, and avoid getting caught in the middle if police declare an unlawful assembly.

"To differentiate one by one by one, who is a peaceful protester and who is being unlawful. When the whole effort is being declared an unlawful assembly, then we've got to step in and take action to restore order in this community."

The FBI says they plan to host another roundtable in a couple of weeks. Next time, with community leaders.

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