MPD Chief Morales hosts Town Hall Meeting on north side
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales and other city leaders gathered for a town hall on the city's north side.
Dozens of officers from MPD, the district attorney, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, community activists and local aldermen were all in attendance.
"I'm not really comfortable talking behind a podium as much as I'd like to be out there and talking with you instead of at you," said MPD Chief Alfonso Morales as he opened the conversation at the town hall.
Chief Morales answered three questions from community groups and two questions from the audience.
One person asked why 17-year-olds are charged with felony assault for getting in a fight with someone 16 or younger. Chief Morales responded by saying there is accountability and the police department is not the judge and jury. The other person asked if Chief Morales will release a plan to the public regarding the ACLU stop and frisk settlement. In response to that question the chief says he believes the information will be release publicly.
Morales focused on police and community relations. Assistant Chief Ray Banks says his focus is transparency.
"We want to be able to instill the confidence and trust with the public, and we know that's been a challenge over the last few administrations -- not an indictment of anyone... this administration is trying really hard to be as transparent as we can," said Asst. Chief Banks.
Other police department representatives and a panel answered more audience questions.
They explained how police think during traffic stop. In one example, they mentioned Dodge Caravans are one of the most commonly stolen vehicles in the city, and anyone driving it may put up a red flag for police. MPD talked about what their standard operating procedures are and that they are public on their website.
The panel addressed the Sterling Brown arrest, and why it took months for the officer to be fired. Asst. Chief Banks explained because the incident happened under a different administration and because there were additional questions they essentially had to start the investigation from scratch.
Citizens came with their own concerns.
"It's rough to see him see what I see," said Dawn Hiebler. She's concerned about what her young son sees in their neighborhood. "The police chases, drugs, the drug houses, prostitution, and the vandalism," said Hiebler. She was able to talk to her alderman, Russell Stamper at the meeting.
Bonnie Ward, the widow of an MPD officer wants to see more diversity on the police force.
"My concerns are with not having enough police officers that reflect my neighborhood," said Ward.
Common Council president Ashanti Hamilton says the full room says a lot about community concern.
"Most of the time it's after a negative incident has occurred with the police department. It's good to see this number without there being some crisis that occurred that caused people to be upset. This is just a regular scheduled town hall talking about this issue. That's important to us recognize," said Hamilton.
Asst. Chief Banks says it hasn't been scheduled yet, but there will be another town hall on the south side. He says a third meeting will follow. At the final meeting they will talk about the changes the MPD will make based on findings at both town halls.