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Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah resigns from police department

Posted at 9:45 PM, Nov 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-18 08:32:09-05

WAUWATOSA — Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah is resigning from the police department, the city announced Tuesday.

The Wauwatosa Common Council approved a separation agreement with Mensah Tuesday. As part of that agreement, Mensah is resigning from employment with the City of Wauwatosa effective Nov. 30, 2020.

The city has asked the Police and Fire Commission to meet as soon as possible to dismiss the charges pending against Officer Mensah, as he will no longer be an employee of the City of Wauwatosa.

Mensah was involved in three police shootings in the past five years: the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Alvin Cole at Mayfair Mall last February; the fatal shooting of Antonio Gonzales in 2015; and the fatal shooting of Jay Anderson Jr. in 2016.

In regard to the shooting of Cole, Milwaukee County District Attorney decided on Oct. 7 to not charge Mensah. But since then, members of the community have called for Mensah to be fired from the department. Mensah was suspended with pay from the Wauwatosa Police Department pending the investigation.

"Now is the time for all of us to come together and heal," said Mayor McBride in a statement Tuesday. "We've made substantial progress during 2020, and in the coming year we'll continue to focus on positive change for our community. As before, I'm committed to working with the Common Council, the city's Equity and Inclusion Commission, and members of the public to make that happen."

The city says the next step in this process is a meeting by the Wauwatosa Committee of the Whole on Dec.15, 2020. That is when they will begin an "anticipated three-month discussion on the equity focus in the next strategic plan."

The city adds that there is not an emergency declaration or curfew planned at this time, and that the Wisconsin National Guard will not be requested.

The city says it has worked hard to improve transparency and reduce police violence in the department. They say they have enacted the following (verbatim):

  • Training for city employees on implicit bias, Milwaukee's history and racial disparities, and for supervisors on ways to ensure a more equitable workplace, as well as stopping implicit biases from impacting hiring decisions.
  • Adopting the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC)'s pledge to "Make Milwaukee a Region of Choice." As part of this pledge, the city is to increase diverse management by 25% and diverse employment by 15% by 2025. Wauwatosa was the first municipality to join this effort.
  • Banning chokeholds and carotid restraints on August 4, 2020.
  • Posting police policies on the city's website to enhance transparency.
  • Creating an online complaint and commendation form for members of the public to submit comment about the Police Department without reporting to the Police Department building to do so.
  • Purchasing body-worn cameras for the Wauwatosa Police Department.
  • Hosting three community conversations in partnership with the Zeidler Group to hear from community stakeholders about how to build greater equity in Wauwatosa.
  • Dedicating a focus area to the next Wauwatosa strategic plan about equity.

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