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Citizen police board irate over access granted to film crew

Filmed footage of crime scenes behind police tape
Posted at 11:03 PM, Nov 16, 2017

Anger boiled over at a Fire and Police Commission Meeting Thursday, as citizens called out the chief for allowing a film crew extraordinary access to crime scenes in Milwaukee.

Assistant Chief William Jessup apologized for signing up for a BBC documentary,"In Dark States: Murder in Milwaukee." The film crew rode around with Milwaukee police officers in the days following the violence in Sherman Park with access behind police crime tape, an area usually restricted only to investigators.

"The chief thought it was a good idea to proceed with a documentary a week after what happened in Sherman Park," said Commissioner Marisabel Cabrara.

"Again in hindsight, I don't know if we would think that was a good idea but at the time we had already signed the MOU (memorandum of understanding) and we thought that this story would provide proper context," Jessup said.

"That's not a good answer. It's ridiculous actually that you think that something positive actually would come out of a violent crime documentary in Milwaukee," Cabrara said.

The department said its ride-along program has existed for decades and the rides are granted to anyone from a journalist to a regular citizen. Police Chief Ed Flynn said he was told it would be a well-rounded story on the community dealing with crime.

"We felt like this could be a positive story for Milwaukee," Jessup said.

Instead, they said the positive stories of officers and the community ended up on the cutting room floor.

"We are unhappy with the outcome of this story as well," Jessup said.

The film crew captured bodies of homicide victims and interviewed a woman who said she sleeps with a gun by her bed.

The commission wants to know why no one knew about it before it was made.

"This kind of came out and we weren't informed, the mayor's office wasn't informed, everything went kind of cloak and dagger," said Chair Steven DeVougas.

Jessup apologized but the commission said it is not enough. They made a motion to look into changing the procedures for ride-alongs.

Flynn's spokesperson said he had a prior engagement and was unable to attend the meeting. He did come two weeks about the measure first went on the agenda and was scheduled to speak but not all the commissioners showed up so it was laid over.