New acting police chief asks public for feedback on Milwaukee Police Department

NOW: New acting police chief asks public for feedback on Milwaukee Police Department

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A new effort is underway at the Milwaukee Police Department aimed at building bridges between police and the community.

Milwaukee's acting police Chief Michael Brunson, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and community leaders unveiled the ReWaukee Project on Wednesday, Aug. 12. Under the new initiative aimed at improving community-police relations, the Milwaukee Police Department is asking citizens to email their feedback about the department to TalkToMPD@Milwaukee.gov.

"We want to hear what the community has to say about the Milwaukee Police Department," Brunson said. "What we want to know is what people think, what they feel, what do they want from the police department. So those are some of the questions that we ask. It'll be facilitated, and people can share their views openly and honestly with us."

Citizens are asked to share their feedback no matter what their views are on law enforcement, according to a news release from the department. Brunson said the idea for the initiative came "from the community" after he reached out to faith-based groups and people who are both pro- and anti-police.

When Brunson was sworn in on Friday, he said decreasing violent crime and improving community relations with police are his top goals.

Barrett applauded him for following through so soon.

"I guarantee you, chief: Our residents will speak. Because there is a lot of unhappiness. There is a lot of turmoil. There is a lot of work that needs to be done in our community to build more trust," Barrett said.

The responses from the community will be compiled into a report, and police will host what they're calling "speak out sessions," where the public can talk about the real issues the city faces. The sessions are scheduled to begin in September.

Common Council President Cavalier Johnson brought up the civil unrest that Milwaukee and other cities saw following the death of George Floyd.

"I think it's important to understand that people are still angry. They're still upset. And they're angry and they're upset because this institution of policing and a system has oppressed and killed and murdered too many people in this country," Johnson said.

Barrett notes that new leadership at MPD and within the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission creates a new opportunity for the city.

When asked about the possibility that people could recommend defunding the police as possible feedback to MPD, Brunson said he's focused on changing what he can change.

"The budget and things of that nature are things that are beyond our control. We will do what we can to work within the budget," Brunson said.

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