We join with Alderman Milele Coggs, Common Council President and Alderman Willie Hines, and Mayor Tom Barrett in condemning the outrageous decision by the Fire and Police Commission to reinstate Milwaukee Police Officer Richard Schoen after he was fired for hitting a handcuffed woman in the head in the back of a squad car, which was captured by the car’s video cam.
All three city officials are also correct when they say in respective statements the Commission’s decision sends a dangerous message to other MPD officers that they can get away with disrespecting the city’s Black and other minority citizens.
After all, Schoen himself felt the decision vindicated his action towards Jeanine Tracy over one year ago during a traffic stop.
That statement, in and of itself, tells us the attitude of some officers on the MPD might well be racist in nature, which runs counter to what Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said during an exclusive MCJ interview recently (which can be found on the MCJ website).
Asked if he felt there was a culture of racism within the department, the chief said he doesn’t believe racism exists within the department, which he added is more diverse today than at any time in its history.
But he did admit there might be some individuals within the department with racist attitudes. Given Schoen’s actions towards Tracy, one can easily come to the conclusion he might be one of those officers or Flynn would not have fired him in the first place.
Though he has come under fire for recent actions by his officers, most notably the Derrick Williams incident (and his own comments related to the incident), Flynn should be credited for firing Schoen and other officers who have crossed the line in their treatment of Black citizens in their custody.
We believe the mayor must go beyond condemning the Commission’s decision. It might be time for either change within the Commission as it relates to removing certain members, or the complete dismantling and restructuring of that body.
Only then will citizens, especially minority citizens, feel secure in the knowledge that the Commission “has their back” in the meting out of discipline and setting the perimeters that govern the behavior of those sworn to “protect and serve.”