January 18, 2008

 

Taylor Bill to Expand Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission

 

MADISON – Today, Senator Lena C. Taylor (D-Milwaukee) announced that the Senate Committee on Judiciary, Corrections, and Housing will hold a public hearing on Senate Bill 390 (SB 390).  The bill would expand the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (FPC) and change the requirements for hearings before that body. 

“A comprehensive study recently found that the Fire and Police Commission lacked the resources to do its job effectively,” Taylor pointed out. “The Commission’s supposed to provide oversight for the Milwaukee Police and Fire Departments.  What the study showed, though, is that the Commission just doesn’t have the resources to provide citizens and the department with the oversight that they need.”

Concerns have emerged regarding the efficiency with which the FPC addresses citizen complaints.  A study by the Police Assessment Resource interviewed hundreds of individuals in Milwaukee, none of whom reported that the complaint process was effective or even acceptable.  Stalled investigations and delays in hearing cases before the FPC prompted talk of expanding the body’s membership.

“This bill is all about expanding access to justice for the citizens of Milwaukee,” said Taylor. “We need to open the hearing process to more people and really make it work for the city.  More members and the new three member panels will speed the hearing process for citizens with complaints.”

By expanding the Commission’s membership from five to either seven or nine, and by allowing complaints to be heard by three-member panels rather than by the entire Commission, the bill will effectively double or triple that body’s capacity to hear complaints.

“The Fire and Police Commission has the potential to be a tremendous resource for Milwaukee,” Taylor noted. “All it needs are the tools to do its work effectively.  SB 390 makes sure that nobody has to wait in line for justice at the Commission.  That’s something we owe to our citizens.”

The public hearing is scheduled for January 22nd at 12:30p in Room 411 South at the State Capitol.  The City of Milwaukee supports the bill.