Welcome To Milwaukee - Where The Mob Rules
If I were a City of Milwaukee Police Officer this morning, I'd be getting my resume in order. I would think it would be difficult to work in a City where the mob rules, elected officials refuse to back their own appointees and those appointees lack anything resembling the courage of their convictions.
In September of 2011, Officer Richard Schoen was involved in the arrest of an individual named Jeanine Tracy. A video of the arrest shows Tracy as being completely out of control - spitting, cursing and banging her head against the interior of the squad car.
When the squad car ultimately arrived at the police station, Tracy continued to curse and refused to get out of the rear of the vehicle. At that point, Officer Schoen is seen to punch Tracy on the side of her head. Authorities say that Tracy did not report any injuries at the time (although in anticipation of a lawsuit now claims various problems).
Based on Tracy's out of control behavior, her inconsistent statements and her lack of injury, both the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office and the U.S.Department of Justice decided that they could not make a prosecutable case against Officer Schoen. For the record, I agree with both decisions.
In any event, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn - under pressure from both the local newspaper and certain members of the community for a variety of sins (some real, some perceived), sought to have Schoen fired. Last week, the Fire and Police Commission elected instead to suspend Schoen for two months (a not insignificant penalty for a cop with no serious record of misconduct).
Predictably, several of the City's anti-police elements immediately mobilized and disrupted a meeting of the Fire and Police Commission. Mayor Barrett, who appoints the members of the Fire and Police Commission, also criticized the Schoen decision. As an aside, regardless of Barrett's position, the mob decided to unthinkingly go after Barrett as well.
In the face of the mob - and the Mayor - the Fire and Police Commission decided to review its decision.
This morning, in what I believe was a response to the mob protests and the comments from Mayor Barrett, the Fire and Police Commission reversed itself and ordered that Schoen be fired.
So much for the rule of law.
As I've said before, Schoen was obviously wrong to strike a handcuffed prisoner - regardless of the provocation and the prisoner's refusal to comply with orders. If the Fire and Police Commission had initially determined that this was a dischargeable offense, I would have certainly understood. They didn't so decide though. Rather, they only opted to fire Schoen after the mob (and Tom Barrett) complained.
The only thing more absurd that the reversal of this decision is the rationale offered by at least one member of the Commission. Michael O'Hear, a professor at Marquette University Law School, said that he didn't understand the burden of proof (!). Right!
Talk about buying a lawsuit!
More importantly though is the message that this sends to all Milwaukee Police Officers. Namely, don't count on the rule of law to protect you! If the mob complains (as it frequently does around here) - and pressures the often spineless Mayor - prepare to be sent packing.
So much for supporting your local police.
Welcome to Milwaukee - where the mob rules and cops are targets.