Public officials demand answers in Sterling Brown arrest

Posted at 3:49 PM, May 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-24 16:49:18-04

The Sterling Brown arrest video is making national news and receiving widespread criticism for the handling of the situation by the Milwaukee Police Officers on scene.

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said the officers involved were disciplined, though he did not take any questions during a prepared statement. 

"It hasn't been communicated to us on what the exact discipline is," Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton said. "I'm sure that will come out in the coming days. I'm encouraging the Chief to share that with the public."

Hamilton spoke with TODAY'S TMJ4 about the handling of the Sterling Brown arrest. He says he viewed the video about a week ago and hopes this incident can be used as a learning tool for police and help further police-community relations. 

"The last thing we want to be viewed as is a backwards city that does not take these issues seriously," Hamilton said. "We're taking it serious. What we've heard from the police chief and from the police department is they're going to take swift action on this situation. What I want us to do as a city though, is find opportunities how to build on this and take swift action."

The message of de-escalation is something echoed by other members of the Common Council. In a joint statement, several members of the Common Council say they, "have introduced a file to discuss and evaluate the current police policy and training as it relates to de-escalation, along with implicit cultural bias." 

"It sends a message that institutional racism is real," Hamilton said. "If we can't get to a point to call it out when it's blatant, in front of your face, then we're not moving forward and we can't solve the ills in this country or city until we get real about the reality."

Hamilton doesn't deny this is getting more attention from everyone because of Brown's status as an NBA player, but he doesn't want that to diminish the platform for what this represents. 

"There are hundreds of encounters like that," Hamilton said. "I know it because I've experienced it myself. It exists for members of this community on an everyday basis. We can't allow that to be swept under the rug. That's why you see the unified standing of council members today."

The Common Council is pushing for more transparency from the Police Department. While body cameras are a step in the right direction, they think the public needs to know more about the disciplinary process to understand when officers are in the wrong, they're being handled.

"I believe that officers that believe that way and treat people like that should have never been hired in the first place," Hamilton said. 

Ald. Tony Zielinski also says the community can trust in them to hold the Police Department accountable. He says they will push for legislation to give the Common Council power to vote out a Police Chief with a two-thirds majority vote. 

"It will give us the authority to follow through on these changes for people in this community," Zielinski said. "If we're going to see meaningful change, we have to empower the council to be able to take action against a Police Chief if they're not going to implement changes we're talking about."