Wauwatosa holds public listening session on race, equity and police issues

NOW: Wauwatosa holds public listening session on race, equity and police issues

WAUWATOSA, Wis. (CBS 58) -- The City of Wauwatosa held a public listening session on race, equity and police issues Tuesday night, July 21.

A majority of the focus of the meeting was Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah.

Last week, the city's Fire and Police Commission decided to suspend Officer Mensah, who's been involved in three fatal shootings in a matter of five years.

Protesters made their presence known at Tuesday's meeting, which brought people with differing opinions.

"Black folks who happen to pass our door heading home from work, visiting friends at the hospital maybe, buying a gift at Mayfair, I've seen dozens of police stops, yet never recall any of them that look like me," said a white Wauwatosa resident.

"Please don't make a second mistake and give in to their demands to remove Chief Weber who has done a fantastic job. Do your job and support the Wauwatosa Police Department," another resident said. 

Tracy Cole and Jay Anderson took the microphone to express sadness in losing their sons. Both were fatally shot by Joseph Mensah.

"Only 17 years old, he was about to go to college, his dream is gone," said Cole. 

"If you put him back on the force it's gonna be a fourth family, a fifth family, y'all need to fire him ASAP," Anderson added.

Some say Wauwatosa has the opportunity to set an example for the entire country, something Mayor McBride says he wants to do.

"You are at a point here where you, as a city, can lead and be an example for the rest of the world," said a South Milwaukee resident.

"I would not have come back here if I didn't believe that Wauwatosa could not be much improved, but also an example to all the other communities in the Milwaukee area," said Mayor McBride. "And I think we can."

The last few weeks, Wauwatosa has made strides in their policing, moving forward with a new body cam policy and suspending Officer Mensah.

Mayor McBride says while disciplinary actions for Officer Mensah would have to go through the FPC, he wants people to understand progress in racial equity takes time.

"We can't do everything in a day, it's the old story -- Rome wasn't built in a day, and we're not gonna solve our race problems in a day in America or in Wauwatosa."

Dozens of people were heard Tuesday night. The mayor says he'll take the comments and discuss with the council before moving forward with any recommendations. 

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