City leaders react to FPC's decision to reinstate Officer Schoen

MILWAUKEE -- City of Milwaukee leaders spoke out Tuesday, December 4th after a controversial move by the Fire and Police Commission to reinstate Milwaukee Police Officer Richard Schoen after Chief Flynn fired him. 

A Fire and Police Commission panel voted 2-3 Monday evening to give Officer Schoen his job back. 

Schoen was fired back in May, after he was seen on squad car dashcam video punching a woman in the head.

The Commission panel ruled Schoen can have his job back after a 60-day suspension.

In the dashcam video, Schoen is seen punching Jeanine Tracy after arresting her in September of 2011. Schoen is then seen dragging Tracy out of the squad car by her hair, inside a police station garage. 

Schoen told commissioners he was afraid Tracy would bite him or spit at him. 

Schoen appealed his firing, and after a hearing, the panel voted to reinstate him.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was one of those who spoke out against the Commission panel's decision on Tuesday.

"I strongly disagree with the decision they made, and I will obviously let individuals know that this was not a decision that I take lightly. Again, listening to his comments after the Fire and Police Commission meeting made me think this is even more serious than I thought," Mayor Barrett said.

After he was reinstated on Monday evening, Schoen had this to say to FOX6 News: 

"I appreciate the Commission's efforts in deliberating this. To Ms. Tracy I offer her best wishes and I hope that she can learn from the event as I have and move on. I still feel I was somewhat justified, but that's for other people to decide," Schoen said.

"The fact that even after that hearing, even after the discipline had been levied, that that officer said he felt his actions were somewhat justified shows you there's a disconnect between the training that the officers receive and his actions," Mayor Barrett said.

Echoing Mayor Barrett's concerns, in news releases issued Tuesday, were Common Council President Willie Hines and Alderwoman Milele Coggs

Hines said, in part: "Police officers are not above the law and must be held accountable for their actions. 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."

Coggs said, in part: "Officers are sworn to protect and serve, and any officer who loses sight of this should be disciplined accordingly. Mr. Schoen should have lost his ability to serve as an officer in the Milwaukee Police Department when he allowed his anger and rage to outweigh his commitment to his sworn oath."

Chief Flynn himself issued the following statement late Tuesday evening: ”We in the Milwaukee Police Department proudly hold ourselves to a Code of Conduct and we would expect the Board of Fire and Police Commissioners to support us in that effort. I recommended the firing of this officer for excessive use of force and I am disappointed in last night’s ruling. There is no place for this conduct in policing and I will not be deterred from upholding the standards of the Milwaukee Police Department.”

Two of the commissioners who served on the panel are expected to issue a written statement on their decision in the next week to 10 days.

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