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Police holding community meetings in effort to improve relations

By Frank Healy

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    MILWAUKEE (WDJT) — Milwaukee police met with community members Saturday, July 23 as part of the Community Collaborative Coalition in an effort to improve police-community relations.

The meeting was the first of 15 meetings they’re planning to have in the coming months, one in each aldermanic district.

Organizers say they are trying to figure out what a safer Milwaukee looks like to the people who live here.

“Do they want more cops on beat patrol? Do they want more bike officers? You know, what is it they wanted,” said MPD Assistant Chief Nicole Waldner.

Waldner was one of many police officials at the meeting Saturday.

Carlton Mayers, a police reform expert and founder of Mayers Strategic Solutions brought in by the city, says these meetings are the beginning of change for how policing works in the city.

“This is an opportunity for Milwaukee to be proactive rather than reactive when it comes to addressing these public safety issues,” said Mayers.

People in attendance talked about what the features of a ‘safe’ neighborhood are, how to target inequality in the city’s policing and how to improve trust in police from the community.

“To make sure the voices of those community members in those localized districts are heard about their specific issues and solutions for those issues,” said Mayers.

Omar Flores, co-chair of the Milwaukee Alliance Against Racism and Political Repression, or MAARPR, was there with several other members of the organization. He said he feels like the police already know what needs to change.

“Operate in a manner in which the community actually had control over police and didn’t have just recommendations,” said Flores.

Flores said holding the meeting at Marquette University, in a place with limited free parking, and having so many police at the meeting, isn’t a good start for trying to increase trust. According to him a good way to start is giving up some of the autonomous powers police operate under.

“That’s the only way to actually have trust with the police department is if the community has a full say in how they’re policed, who is policing them, and the kind of funding that police see,” said Flores.

Waldner says looking to the future, they’re hoping to make these meetings more accessible.

“I want as many people there as possible,” said Waldner.

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