U.S. Civil Rights Division now accepting tips from citizens on MPD

MILWAUKEE -- Residents who believe Milwaukee police officers have violated their rights have an outlet to express concerns starting Wednesday, October 17th.

The Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice has set up a toll-free tip line and email address. The information gathered through these sources will be used to help determine whether U.S. Attorney James Santelle and the Civil Rights Division should conduct a formal “patterns and practices” investigation of the Milwaukee Police Department

A "patterns and practices" investigation would be a broader probe into the Milwaukee Police Department. On October 10th, the FBI announced it was launching an investigation into the death of Derek Williams -- the man who died while in Milwaukee police custody. At that time, U.S. Attorney James Santelle indicated this broader investigation could be coming.

"Undeniably recent events have animated our focus on this, but this has been a continuing matter and continuing subject of our focus for a long time. This is not about trust or lack of trust in any other institutions of government or investigations. This is about telling the public today that they can be sure that the Federal Bureau of Investigation will bring to this investigation new eyes and new insight and turn over every stone to determine what the fact are and were," Santelle said.

Anyone interested in providing information can contact the Department of Justice by calling 1-855-544-5132 or via email at community.milwaukee@usdoj.gov. The recorded phone message is in both English and Spanish.

Milwaukee Common Council President Willie Hines, Jr. and Alderwoman Milele Coggs are urging all residents who believe they have witnessed a police abuse of power or have had their rights violated to contact the U.S. DOJ.

"I would hope that they (come forward) because that's how the process is initiated and we need their input to really substantiate whether there are some issues of concern," Hines said.

Alderwoman Coggs says she has heard from individuals who are concerned.

"Each of us represents about 40,000 people. When one case hits, so many people call and so many people email. So many people stop you on the street or I'm sitting at community meetings and hearing people tell their stories -- which are a lot deeper than any one case," Coggs said.

CLICK HERE for additional coverage on the Derek Williams case via FOX6Now.com.

CLICK HERE for additional information on the investigation into four Milwaukee police officers charged for illegal searches.