Strip Search Scandal
Barrett on strip search charges: 'They represent an egregious violation of public trust'
MILWAUKEE- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says he is outraged by the alleged actions of four Milwaukee police officers who performed illegal strip searches.
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm says Officer Michael Vagnini faces 25 counts of violating the strip search law, misconduct in public office and sexual assault. Officer Jeffrey Dollhopf has been charged with two counts of violating the strip search law and two counts of misconduct. Officers Brian Kozelek and Jacob Knight each face one count of illegal strip search and one count of misconduct.
"I understand that these officers are entitled to due process and a fair trial, but if these allegations are true -- they represent an egregious violation of public trust," said Barrett at a news conference Tuesday afternoon.
Barrett says this is a sad day for the City of Milwaukee.
"I've spoken to the director of the (Milwaukee) Fire and Police Commission, and indicated to him that I want these (charged) officers to be off the payroll as soon as legally possible."
The investigation into potentially illegal searches began in March. Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said at the time the department was aware the searches for drugs had possibly crossed the line to sexual assault and civil rights violations.
There have been several calls for Chief Flynn to resign following several recent issues surrounding the police department.
Although Barrett doesn't personally have the authority to fire Flynn, he doesn't support those calls.
"I do not support removing the chief at this time."
Barrett insists that a vast majority of people who join the Milwaukee Police Department want to serve justice to the community.