MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee’s Police Chief says more than 100 law enforcement agencies have pulled their officers from protecting the Democratic National Convention next month. Chief Alfonso Morales told TMJ4 News that the city’s decision to stop the use of tear gas an other chemical irritants led to the department's decision.
Morales said, “as a result of some of the resistance to allow those purchases [tear gas] to be made or the resistance to allow that to be used… some of the comments made by our common council - it led to a withdraw of law enforcement that initially stated they were going to assist in securing the city of Milwaukee.”
Morales said 100 agencies have said they will pull officers from the security detail. Local departments such as West Allis, Franklin and Fond du Lac have said they are pulling their officers citing the lack of appropriate equipment to keep officers and citizens safe.
Common Council President Cavalier Johnson said in a statement Tuesday night, “Milwaukee’s Common Council has only asked for transparency when it comes to the use of chemical irritants — especially during a time when tensions between law enforcement and the community need to be de-escalated. I’m very thankful to police forces from Green Bay, West Bend, and other communities from across Wisconsin and the United States that not only will honor their commitment to provide security during the Democratic National Convention but, also respect the moment that our nation is in as we collectively re-examine police-community relations.”
Morales could not say how many officers have withdrawn because of security concerns. He did say the lack of tear gas or chemical irritants is a concern.
“That is difficult for the police department. We have to have those tools at our disposal when the crowds get unruly and begin to throw projectiles or begin to show violence within law enforcement” said Morales.
The issue stems from a decision in March by the city to not purchase more of the chemical irritant for the DNC. Common Council members questioned the use of the gas on protesters near 6th and McKinley in early June during the George Floyd protests.
They asked the mayor to stop an additional purchase, and he obliged. Just last week the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission directed Chief Morales to amend Standard Operating Procedures to discontinue the use of it.
The chief has said additional federal officers could be used to secure the DNC if it comes to that. The Democratic National Convention, scaled back because of COVID-19, will take place August 17th - 20th at the Wisconsin Center in Downtown Milwaukee.