Ask Milwaukee Common Council Committee for Hearings to Listen to Public

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: January 14, 2013

CONTACT: Chris Ahmuty, Executive Director, (414)272-4032, media@aclu-wi.org

 

MILWAUKEE, WI – The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, along with 19 other community organizations and leaders (complete list below), have asked for public hearings to make sure Fire and Police Commission nominees are capable of carrying out or overseeing the several functions given to the Board and Commission by state statute and city ordinance.  It appears that Mayor Barrett will appoint up to two candidates to fill existing vacancies on the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners in the near future.

Twenty organizations and leaders have signed the letter to Common Council President Hines and Public Safety Committee Chairperson Witkowski, which stated, “We urge the Public Safety Committee to hold at least two public hearings in venues that are accessible to the public in order to take testimony from Milwaukee residents regarding the role of the Commission and the Board, expectations of Board members, and the Milwaukee Fire and Police Departments prior to the committee voting on nominees.”  A copy of the letter is attached.

It has been nearly a year since it was revealed that unauthorized strip searches and illegal body cavity searches had been carried out by police officers assigned to District 5.  Since then there has been great concern about other possible instances of excessive use of force and discriminatory harassment.  It is necessary to assure the public that the Board will be capable of moving forward and, given our recent history, will listen to the public. This cannot be achieved without an open and transparent confirmation process.  

The ACLU of Wisconsin will neither endorse nor oppose specific nominees.  However, the signatories of the letter believe that the Common Council and its Public Safety Committee have the authority and obligation to review Mayor Tom Barrett’s appointments.  Before the Common Council confirms any nominees, council members must consider public input to make certain that the commissioners will have the attributes necessary to fulfill their several functions and to help enhance public confidence in the Commission and the Milwaukee Fire and Police Departments.

The organizations and community leaders are (alphabetically): All Black Everything, American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin, ARACOPA Coalition for Social Justice, Center for Youth Engagement, Centro Hispano Milwaukee, MICAH, Milwaukee Matters, the Milwaukee Muslim Women's Coalition, Milwaukee Justice and Peace Coalition, NAACP – Milwaukee Branch, National Lawyer’s Guild, Peace Action Wisconsin, Reproductive Justice Coalition, SEIU Local 150, True Skool, Urban Underground, LaShawndra Vernon, Voces de la Frontera, Wilberg Community Planning, and YWCA Southeast Wisconsin.

The ACLU of Wisconsin has approximately 6,500 members who support its efforts to defend the civil liberties and civil rights of all Wisconsin residents. For more on the work of the ACLU of Wisconsin, visit our webpage, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter @ACLUofWisconsin and @ACLUMadison.

 

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