ACLU, Milwaukee police stop-and-frisk resolution efforts continue

There is still room for improvement – that was the message Thursday from both the Milwaukee Police Department and the American Civil Liberties Union on efforts to end unlawful stops and frisks.

It dates back to the 2018 Collins settlement agreement, signed by then-Mayor Tom Barrett, which required Milwaukee police to do more than just stop those contacts.

Four years later, the ACLU of Wisconsin said Thursday that police are not complying with the agreement. The police department says change just takes time.

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"We know this is a problem," said Karyn Rotker with ACLU of Wisconsin. "Unfortunately, there hasn't even been compliance for a single year."

The settlement required the police department and Milwaukee's Fire and Police Commission to make a handful of changes, including the creation of new data collection policies, training, supervision and discipline.

Milwaukee Police Department Administration Building

"We are working diligently through training and discipline to get every member on board to recognize this is an issue that needs to improve immediately," said Heather Hough, the newly appointed risk manager for Milwaukee police.

Hough emphasized Chief Jeffrey Norman's dedication to equitable, community policing.

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"We want to build trust with this community, and we want every action to be constitutional and the right thing without bias," she said.

The ACLU said those changes are not happening fast enough. Last month's Crime and Justice Institute report found nearly 54% of frisks in the second half of 2021 lacked reasonable suspicion. MPD vows to keep improving.

Milwaukee Police Department (MPD)

"We're not there yet. The numbers show that. We're getting better," said Hough.

As part of the agreement, both the ACLU and the police department ask anyone who has been stopped and frisked within the past two years to contact them. It will help both agencies follow up on the settlement.