MILWAUKEE — The tense nights of protests in Milwaukee are over. It's a new day, and the new leader of the Milwaukee Police Department wants to begin a dialogue with anyone willing to talk.
"What we want to know is what people think. What they feel. What do they want from the police department?" said Acting Chief Michael Brunson.
Brunson kicked off the "ReWaukee Project" Wednesday. It begins with numerous "Speak out sessions" where community members will discuss various police-community issues.
The feedback from those sessions will be included in a report aimed at creating more effective policing.
"Right now, when you look at the average police officer, you're automatically intimidated," said Milwaukee resident Adrian Patterson.
Residents like Patterson said he hopes discussions like these don't just end here.
"You have to have people that are willing or able to speak to the masses of the people," Patterson said.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett stood beside the new chief. He said no matter how the talkbacks go, or what changes are made, mutual respect will be key to progress.
"I want this to be a city where people can work with and respect our police. But to make that happen, this also has to be a city where our city works with and respects our residents," Barrett said.
The department said the project will "focus on fostering community engagement and incorporating collaborative input and partnership." The slogan for the project is “Reform. Reimagine. Rebuild.”
"The first initiative under the ReWaukee Project is hosting numerous 'speak out' sessions where all members of the community are invited to discuss the various issues involving police-community issues in a virtual format. Each group will be limited to under a dozen participants, be facilitated through a Milwaukee nonprofit and be documented by a professional consultant. The consultant will produce the results in a report that will be released publicly," said the department.
To enroll in the first session, email firstname.lastname@example.org.