Mayor, alderman blast Fire and Police Commission decision to reinstate MPD officer fired for hitting womanDecember 7, 2012 // 0 Comments
Compiled by MCJ Staff
Mayor Tom Barrett joined two Milwaukee Aldermen in condemning the decision by the Fire and Police Commission to reinstate a Milwaukee Police officer after being fired by Chief Edward Flynn for excessive use of force.
The commission panel rescinded the firing and gave Schoen, who had appealed his firing, a 60-day suspension.
MPD Officer Richard Schoen was fired by Flynn for punching a woman in the face while she was handcuffed in the back of a squad car in the District 7 police station garage after a traffic stop September 22, 2011.
Schoen is reportedly seen on the squad car’s dashboard camera punching the woman, Jeanine Tracy. He is then seen dragging Tracy out of the squad care by her hair.
In a press statement, the mayor strongly disagreed with the Fire and Police Commission’s decision.
“I believe the action the panel took sends the entirely wrong message to members of the police department and to the community,” Barrett said.
“In an interview following the hearing Officer Schoen stated, ‘I still feel I was somewhat justified.’ Obviously, Officer Schoen did not get the message the 60 day suspension was intended to deliver.”
Saying she may not agree with Chief Flynn on everything, Alderman Coggs believed the chief was right when he chose to fire Schoen. She was critical of the commission, questioning whether or not it was the appropriate body to make disciplinary decisions about police officers.
“Our commission is the only one structured like it in the nation,” Coggs said. “I believe it is out of tune with the community.”
Coggs noted out of approximately 300 citizen complaints filed with the Fire and Police Commission against Milwaukee officers last year, only one resulted in disciplinary action against an officer.
“I believe it may be time to either restructure or eliminate the commission, and the laws that govern its existence.”
Council President Hines said Schoen’s reinstatement sets a dangerous precedent.
“Police officers are not above the law and must be held accountable for their actions,” said Hines in a statement. “By terminating Officer Schoen, Chief Flynn had demonstrated just that.
“The Fire and Police Commission decision to reinstate Officer Schoen sends a frightening message to the community and sets a dangerous precedent for the Milwaukee Police Department, and should absolutely be corrected.”
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