Mayor Barrett on Sterling Brown case, disciplining involved officers and police union issues


Update: As of noon Thursday, a report came out about three suspensions of Milwaukee Police officers after the Sterling Brown incident. 

Original story

The nation's eyes were placed on Milwaukee with the release of the bodycam video showing the arrest and tasing of Milwaukee Bucks player Sterling Brown. 

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett supported the assertion of Milwaukee Police, Brown, the Milwaukee Bucks and others in the community (all at different levels) that the officers involved acted improperly in the way they treated Brown.

"There clearly is more work to be done," Barrett said on WTMJ's Wisconsin's Morning News Thursday morning about the evidence the tape showed about how Brown was treated by police.

Complete coverage:
WATCH: Arrest of Sterling Brown, including tasing
Statement from Sterling Brown: "Unlawful use of force" used
Statement from Milwaukee Bucks: Arrest was "shameful and inexcusable"
Community leaders call for firing of officers in Sterling Brown arrest
Bucks players '#StandWithSterlingBrown' with solidarity messages after Brown arrest video release
Mayor Barrett on Sterling Brown case, disciplining involved officers and police union issues

"I saw this tape sooner than I've seen just about any other tape," said the Mayor.

"The police chief had started a practice. He showed the Common Council members. I thought 'I'd better not be isolating myself if elected officials have it. I made a decision last week to see the tape."

Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan had claimed on January 30 that the Mayor had asked to review the body camera footage of the Brown arrest and that he had asked for Brown to not receive charges. The Mayor denied the Alderman's claim. 

When it comes to the possibility of firing the police officers involved - something called for by community leaders on Wednesday evening - the Mayor said he could not say with certainty what the discipline will be, but within that parameter, he said he does not think firing "has been what has been contemplated."

He added the discipline process will involve public release of information at some point, but he does not know yet whether that will happen.

"I do not know what the disciplines are. That is part of the process. I am assuming we will both find out very, very soon," said Barrett.

"There is a process for individuals who have been disciplined, that they have some rights. Those rights need to be afforded to them. All of these personnel files are open to the public. As soon as I find out, I will make sure the public finds out as well."

In the aftermath of the incident, Barrett is giving a call for both police officers and the public to grow in their interpersonal interactions and treat each other as human beings.

"It goes down to every single personal interaction either started by a police officer or started by a person," said Barrett. "As a society...we have to be respectful to each other."

"This is a challenge. It really, really gets down to (how) we have to have this be a city where our residents can work with and trust our police officers. At the same time, it has to be a city where our police officers can work with and trust our residents. It has to be a two-way street."

Barrett recognized, however, that the pressures of being a police officer and the pressures of living as a minority in Milwaukee's inner city are unique and beyond his own personal experience, and people need to take those things into account with sensitivity when understanding the flashpoints that have happened in police-citizen interaction.

"You can see how tempers flash very quickly. It's easy for me to say that because I'm not the one either being confronted by a police officer (as) an African-American man, and I'm not a police officer working in the middle of the night. It's like a marriage or a long-term relationship. We're always going to have people who are stopped by police. We're always going to have police. We have to, as a society, understand what is going on here."

The Mayor took offense to the Milwaukee Police Association statement that "city leadership and the former chief [who never supported proper staffing] truly need to self-examine. Our force is so drastically understaffed that negative outcomes are inevitable!" as posted on their Facebook page.

"When I asked the police union to help us get more funds from the state government, and they totally, totally, totally walked the other way. I'm thinking 'you've got to be kidding me, You've got to be kidding me to have the gall to say that.' "

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