Milwaukee opens public hearings on MPD actions during protests

NOW: Milwaukee opens public hearings on MPD actions during protests

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Common Council opened up public hearings Friday both to look into Milwaukee police tactics during protests and to seek long term structural reform in the department.

Aldermen say the public can voice their opinion to them through the city clerk, as well as report incidents to the Fire and Police Commission, the group tasked with overseeing MPD.

“There will be some great interactions, and there will be some unfortunate ones," Alderwoman Milele Coggs said. "And for those protesters who have bad experiences, we encourage them to let the Fire and Police Commission know.”

Aldermen are concerned about the use of tear gas and rubber bullets on protesters and a video some think shows an officer putting his knee on the back of a man's head during a confrontation at 6th and McKinley Boulevard on Tuesday.

Milwaukee police say they support peaceful protest, but civil unrest turned violent during the night, and they needed to restore order. They mentioned multiple attacks on officers, including one who was shot.

Assistant Chief Michael Brunson said the Major Incident Response Team, which is what people see responding to protests, is there to protect civilians, officers and property. He said it can avoid casualties that cities saw during riots in the 1960's.

“Law enforcement's options at those times were a handgun and a billy club," Brunson said. "There was no coordinated effort to preserve life.”

Mayor Tom Barrett issued an executive order creating a task force to review use of force from MPD and increasing police accountability.

“I honestly think that the underlying issue is, what are the practices that we should have, not only for the protests and the marches, but going forward, what do we need to change.”

Barrett said the task force will submit a report within 90 days.

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