Milwaukee FPC meets to discuss police response to protests, unrest

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales went before his bosses at the Fire and Police Commission for the first time Thursday, June 11 since protests broke out across the city.

The FPC discussed the Milwaukee Police Department's response to the protests. On the agenda at the meeting were resolutions to amend use-of-force procedures and civil disturbance and crowd management.

The department's pandemic response was also discussed at the meeting. With unrest occurring during the pandemic, FPC Commissioner Everett Cocroft questions MPD's use of tear gas during protests -- especially in the face of COVID-19, a respiratory illness.

"In the midst of a pandemic, civil unrest, when you use tear gas...that is going to exacerbate the pandemic...people are gonna be coughing, droplets are gonna spread. You gotta consider the health of the citizens," Cocroft said.

Michael Brunson

In response, MPD Assistant Chief Michael Brunson said it is too late to try to de-escalate or find other methods when officers are "under siege" and "being injured" by citizens and that the department uses methods that would cause the "least amount of injury in that situation."

Brunson told commissioners that the department is going through all video of what took place during the unrest to ensure that all policies were followed as written. Cocroft said he, too, wants to see the video.

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said it is wrong to say that "a lot of incidents" with protesters used gas or smoke. He said the tactic was used during four incidents which occurred on Friday, May 29; Sunday, May 31; and Tuesday, June 2 -- all during the day -- and on Wednesday, June 3 during the day.

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales

"Since that day, there has been no deployment of any smoke irritant or any gas irritant or any type of rubber bullets. So the incidents that we're talking about are not a lot of incidents," Morales said. "Understand this was a Milwaukee County deployment and in other areas of the county, things did occur. But for the City of Milwaukee, we have those incidents documented."

Morales detailed summaries of events over the past two weeks of protests and the various issues the department has dealt with. The daytime protests were peaceful and expected, Morales said, but it was the protests that carried into the evenings where marchers were replaced by larger amounts of vehicle traffic where things changed.

The night of Friday, May 29 into Saturday, May 30 saw of the most violence and property damage.