MILWAUKEE — A new report shows that throughout 2020, the Milwaukee Police Department continued to stop and frisk mostly Black and brown people without reasonable suspicion. The report was prepared by an independent consultant as part of the 2018 Settlement Agreement in the case of Collins v. City of Milwaukee, often called the “Stop-and-Frisk” case.
The report reveals that nearly 87% of frisks in the sample of frisks conducted during the second half of 2020 were made without showing there was reasonable suspicion that a person was armed and dangerous, and that nearly 38% of pedestrian stops by MPD in this sample failed to show reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. The report also shows that Black people were 60% of those stopped and 86 % of those frisked. Significant noncompliance was similarly found in a prior report based on data for the first half of 2020.
The settlement came after a 2017 lawsuit by nine Black and Latinx Milwaukee residents, represented by the ACLU of Wisconsin, national ACLU, and the law firm of Covington & Burling LLP, which showed that Black and Brown people in Milwaukee were being unconstitutionally and disproportionately stopped by police. However, the recent report shows MPD’s continuing failure to comply with core elements of the agreement.
“The recent reports from CJI indicate just how far MPD is from compliance. Not only is there a drastic racial disparity reflected in the proportion of Black people stopped by the MPD, but the police then go on to frisk Black community members at an even higher rate, despite the fact that the MPD failed to demonstrate reasonable suspicion for many of those stops,” said Emma Shakeshaft, a staff attorney at the ACLU of Wisconsin. “These numbers are unacceptable and alarming when we have seen time and time again that for Black and Brown people, being stopped by the police frequently leads to death, serious harm and trauma.”
“The fact that almost three years have passed since the agreement was signed and MPD has continued its practice of discriminatory and unconstitutional stops and frisks shows that the department has been unwilling or incapable of doing so in an unbiased and lawful manner,” Shakeshaft said. “If Milwaukee police, even under a settlement filed with the court, cannot treat people constitutionally in routine encounters, then there is a serious problem.”
The ACLU of Wisconsin is seeking to speak with Milwaukee residents who were stopped or frisked by the Milwaukee Police Department but not ticketed or arrested, since January 1, 2020. Residents can contact them by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.