MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Police Department has endured criticism over the past few weeks as it relates to the death of 22-year-old Derek Williams -- who died while in police custody in July of 2011. Community leaders and residents have even called for the firing of Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn and a federal investigation into Williams' death. Now, there is word of the possibility of increased police presence in the neighborhood near where Williams died.
Those who live not far from Milwaukee Police Department's District 5, near Holton and Center say there is tension in the neighborhood. They also say they've noticed an increased police presence in recent weeks.
"I see like, sets of three squads with four cops in each one," neighbor Joey Vega said.
"They usually ride four deep when they come down here," neighbor Gordon Kaufert said.
These neighbors told FOX6 News the increased police presence helps them feel more at ease.
"It makes me feel safe. I know when I call them -- snap -- they come," Kaufert said.
"There's less of a chance of anything happening if there's cops around," Vega said.
Kaufert said he believes the ramping up of patrols in the neighborhood is in response to the growing concerns and outrage surrounding the Williams' death.
Dashcam video taken after police picked up Williams -- suspected of a robbery -- shows Williams gasping for air and asking for assistance while handcuffed in the back of a squad car.
A Medical Examiner's report originally indicated Williams' cause of death as complications due to Sickle cell trait -- but that report was recently amended, and the cause of death changed to homicide (death at the hands of another).
An inquest into Williams' death is being handled by special prosecutor and former Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge John Franke.
Meanwhile, neighbors like Kaufert and Vega say they support the investigation into the Williams' case. They say they hope the search for truth isn't disrupted by those looking for a reason to disturb the peace.
"I wouldn't want that job. It's a real difficult job for the police," Kaufert said.
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