Friday, August 20, 2021

SE Wisconsin law enforcement responds to call to defund police


'Hold us accountable, and we'll find the ones that need to be weeded out in organizations,' Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas says

Law enforcement leaders from across southeast Wisconsin responded Thursday to calls to defund police.

Officers talked about the challenges and criticism they're facing at a round table organized by Republican U.S. Rep. Bryan Steil at the Franklin Police Department.

"It's imperative that we have communities that are safe. We've seen some challenging times over the last year. We've seen, I think, a very vocal minority of people engaged in anti-police rhetoric," Steil said.

Steil criticized calls to defund police and organized a law enforcement round table to hear from southeast Wisconsin law enforcement leaders.

Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas said law enforcement can't run from its past and has made critical mistakes, but that's not all.

"Each day, men and women put on a badge and uniform and went out and served communities all across America, and did it to the best of their ability," Lucas said.

The sheriff said law enforcement is moving forward with sensitivity and cultural bias awareness training.

"Hold us accountable, and we'll find the ones that need to be weeded out in organizations," Lucas said.

Racine County Sheriff Christopher Schmaling delivered a message to news media.

"When law enforcement does good things, and we save lives daily, give that just as much of attention to our community as you would when we're responsible for ending someone's life," he said.

The eyes of the nation turned to Kenosha in August 2020 when police shot and permanently disabled Jacob Blake, leading to fiery protests and two more people being killed.

"After all this stuff that happened, I guess, even though we thought we were doing a good job. Obviously, we can do a better job. And that's the goal is to continue to try to increase the relationships we have with the citizens we serve," Kenosha police Detective Pete Deates said.

Milwaukee community activist Angela Lang lobbies for some tax dollars to be taken from traditional policing and invested in mental health treatment and other creative efforts to reduce crime.

"At the end of the day, everyone wants to be safe. And we want to make sure that safety doesn't always mean adding more police officers, and we can reimagine what that safety is," Lang said.

Police say they're struggling more with recruiting new officers and keeping officers because of the criticism law enforcement is facing.


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