RNC Milwaukee 2024; police rules of engagement for crowd control, protests

The Milwaukee Police Department has prepared rules of engagement for handling 2024 Republican National Convention protests.

The rules of engagement lay out what could lead to using things like tear gas and rubber bullets.

Next week, you won't get through without special credentials or tickets. MPD will be outside on crowd control.

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Crowd control

It lays out that MPD protects freedom of speech rights and manages crowds to protect life and property, and minimize disruptions.

The rules of engagement say officers will have their body cameras rolling when dealing with crowds. 

Per a release from MPD, "police may use the force necessary to effectively maintain control of a situation and protect the safety of police members and the public," and uses of force must follow the Wisconsin state model and intervention options.

It defines "peaceful demonstration" as ‘a gathering of people expressing a position in a cooperative manner without violation of the law.’"


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Right to protest

The city has approved a protest route, but the Coalition to March on the RNC said they’re going to march their own route, not the city’s.

"We understand that there is going to be a number of individuals who want to express their First Amendment right," Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said. "There’s going to be patience [but] there will be no tolerance for anything in regards to destruction, for violence, especially when it comes to touching someone or doing anything that is, again, a physical type of nature."

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When it comes to use of force, the release said "large-scale use of impact munitions, the utilization of chemical/riot control agents must be authorized by the Chief of Police or the designated Assistant Chief of Police. Mass arrests may be made in the interest of safety and security. All uses of force must be reported to a supervisor."

"At the end of the day, I don’t know what they’re going to do. They’ve said so many different things," Norman said. "It is a case-by-case scenario. We know there is still open dialogue between whether it’s my team, director Hamilton’s team, or even the mayor’s team. So, we’ll take it as it comes. 

"We have a good track record about how we’ve dealt with these particular types of challenges, but basically they told us they’re going to do what they’re going to do. So we have to figure out and see what’s going to happen when they’re going to do what they’re going to do."

Police Chief Jeffrey Norman

The MPD is also getting backup from departments around the country, from California to Florida. There will also be other Wisconsin agencies in town to assist MPD.

"We’re going to look at this in a case-by-case scenario. We’re going to continue to be doing what we’ve been doing in the past, which is having dialogue," Norman said. "And understand that there is a right to have the freedom to express yourself. And as we are dealing with this, we’ll see in regards to actually what will be done in regards to their route or behaviors out there."