CBS 58 one-on-one with the new Wauwatosa Police Chief James MacGillis
WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Wauwatosa's new police chief, James MacGillis, takes office July 26.
Former Chief Barry Weber retired earlier this year after serving as chief for more than 30 years. MacGillis, a 25 year law enforcement Veteran was appointed by the fire and police commission by a vote of four to one.
MacGillis sat down with CBS 58 to talk about his goals for the department. He takes over Wauwatosa police after a tumultuous 2020 that included a controversial officer-involved shooting, protests and a mass shooting.
"I know there's a lot of challenges but I also look at that as a lot of good opportunities to improve the profession, to improve police/community relations," MacGillis said.
Before he's even sworn in as chief, MacGillis says he's meeting with officials and people in the community to begin building relationships.
He says as chief his goal is to be transparent and work with residents to figure out the most effective ways to police and keep the public safe.
MacGillis says he's already meeting with people to begin building those relationships and that will continue after he's sworn in.
"Talking to the community, having the community involved in what we do and have a seat at the table and be part of those discussions whether it's policy, procedure, how we police out in the community," MacGillis said.
CBS 58 asked MacGillis' thoughts on the revelation last week that Wauwatosa police kept a watch list of protesters and shared it with the FBI. He was not involved in making or sharing the list.
"I can tell you from my experience, in law enforcement we generate informational reports that we share with other law enforcement partners," MacGillis said. "The whole goal is to keep the community safe. We want to protect everyone's constitutional rights out there."
MacGillis spent 25 years with the Milwaukee Police Department, including time as the director of Training at the Milwaukee Police Academy. Most recently he worked as a drug intelligence officer for the state. It's a background he says will help improve the response to calls including those involving people with drug and mental health issues.
"From my previous work with overdose response strategy, having those partnerships in public health, if we work on issues collaboratively we can solve problems long term and strategically," MacGillis said.
MacGillis, who actually grew up in Wauwatosa, emphasized the biggest goal is public safety and he says he will make decisions about policing strategies using data.
"The use of data, the use of evidence-based practices are critical to police leadership," MacGillis said. "I've been involved in those conversations already for a number of years."
He says he can't wait to get to work and put these words in to action.
"Trust isn't freely given, it has to be earned," MacGillis said.