Report finds Milwaukee Police Department bias problem growing worse

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- An annual report released Thursday, Sept. 23 shows Milwaukee police still have a bias problem to address.

It's the third year this analysis has been released.

A key finding: all people of color are more likely than white people to get pulled over or frisked.

The report shows some progress being made by the department, but when it comes to the meat and potatoes of policing, the consultant said MPD still has a long way to go.

"It is about changing the culture and the practices of the department in a way that promotes constitutional policing," said Wisconsin ACLU Senior Staff Attorney Karyn Rotker.

She said the continued racial disparities in stops raises serious questions about whether a federal judge needs to get involved again.

"The racial disparities are greater in a lot of metrics, and that's after controlling for things like crime rates," said Rotker.

While the consultant reported progress in training and data collection, they did see major challenges in turning that training into action.

This annual report was prompted by an ACLU lawsuit accusing MPD of racially biased policing. The city agreed to settle the lawsuit in exchange for reforms to be made and monitored.

In this latest report, the consultant wrote there is little evidence the two-plus years of effort by command is being embraced by the patrol bureau.

A Milwaukee police spokesman issued a statement saying in part:

"MPD understands that we still have work to do. We will continue to improve adherence to our training and policy, will increase timely and quality reviews by our supervision and are laser focused on obtaining full compliance of our agreed upon measures."

The consultant said instability within the command ranks is part of the problem. Fire and Police Commission Chairman Ed Fallone said that's why they're focused on interviewing Acting Chief Jeffrey Norman for the permanent position.

"If that allows us to reach a decision on a permanent chief more quickly, then we can start building down," said Fallone.

The settlement agreement requires five years of progress.

The ACLU believes so far, the settlement agreement hasn't been met once.

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