MPD changes response to incidents involving mentally ill



MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- An incident involving a mentally ill man who was shot and killed by police on April 24th has prompted a change in the way officers handle such situations.

Police Chief Ed Flynn says the changes will make everyone safer, but some community activists are skeptical.

Thomas Coleman, son of James Coleman, who was killed by police, sat in on Thursday, May 16th, as the Fire and Police Commission approved policy changes that could have possibly saved his father's life.

"He needed help. He didn't deserve what he got," said Coleman.

"Today we examined our policies in light of recent events that revealed there were some shortcomings, and some of our policies needed to be updated," said Chief Flynn.

Flynn says the new policies will focus on taking extra precautions with the mentally ill, especially those who are violent. Police will get extra help and use safer transportation.

"Frequently the mentally ill people are confused, angry, upset, they present a danger to themselves and others. We want that issue as far as possible to end peacefully and safely," said Flynn.

Community activist Torrey Lowe says the new policy's true test is yet to come.

"There's nothing wrong with what's being said, it's whats being done. What we want to make sure is that what we hear is being parlayed out in the streets," said Lowe.

Coleman feels the changes are too little, too late.

""It's a little too late to try to change procedures now. They should have been working on that. This is problems that have been worked on for a while," said Coleman.

The Police and Fire Commission also approved a change in policy dealing with searches and seizures. New procedures will require a paper trail and consent to search.