Posts tagged “Red Arrow Park

How Can Ed Flynn Sleep at Night?

On Wednesday, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn terminated the employment of Police Officer Christopher Manney for conducting a frisk of Dondre Hamilton — a troubled man with psychological issues — in Red Arrow Park.

According to the Milwaukee Police Department’s Internal Affairs complaint:

During the April 30 incident, Hamilton resisted Officer Manney’s attempted pat down by putting “his arms down and a confrontation ensued.” Manney drew his baton and, after delivering a strike to Hamilton’s arm, Hamilton disarmed Manney and struck the officer in the neck with the baton. Fearing for his life, Officer Manney shot Hamilton numerous times.

Mr. Hamilton later passed away from injuries sustained in the shooting.

On September 23, 2014, Deputy Inspector Michael Brunson, the commanding officer of the Internal Affairs Division, alleged Manney “failed to adhere to policy when he failed to have a reasonable suspicion that Mr. Hamilton was armed with a weapon or posed a threat to him.” However, during a compelled interviewed with Internal Affairs, Manney told investigators that he observed “bulges” in Hamilton’s pockets.  In a response to the charges, Manney noted that Hamilton was lying down in a public park “in the path where the public walks” and that the officer “immediately suspected” that Hamilton “wasn’t in a normal state.”

Having over 30-years of law enforcement experience, I believe Manney followed the edicts of the courts during his contact and subsequent pat down of Dondre Hamilton. The burden of proof needed to conduct a frisk is a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a person MAY BE armed — an evaluation that is determined by the totality of the circumstances.  Bulges in the pockets of a seemingly unstable person in a public place could certainly lead a reasonable police officer to believe a person may be armed.  Moreover, I have yet to speak to a single officer — not a one — who believes Manney’s frisk of Hamilton was unjustified.

Consequently, Chief Flynn’s decision in this matter merits scrutiny. In situations such as the shooting death of Mr. Hamilton, rank-and-file police officers soon learn if their police chief is a dedicated law enforcement officer — a person who once toiled in the field and likely conducted dozens of frisks in a similar manner as Officer Manney — or a politician with a badge.  In this instance it is obvious that Flynn is a politician in a blue uniform.

So, I have a few questions for Chief Flynn:

Sir, how can you sleep at night knowing full well that you have thrown a police officer under the bus for simply doing his job?

Chief, do you actually believe that the rank-and-file officers of the MPD — the men and women who put their lives on the line policing troubled areas of Milwaukee — have any confidence in your leadership?

And how will your officer’s react knowing that you, sir, are willing to end their careers to appease City Hall political operatives, the press, and some disgruntled members of the public?

Chief Flynn, what incentive do the officers of your department now have to stop and question potentially armed and dangerous individuals, when, career wise, a better decision might be to drive right on by?

Chief Flynn, as a cop, you have lost your way. While I generally do not purport to speak for others, I feel confident in noting that your decision to fire Officer Manney for seeking to protect his person while performing a dangerous job is an embarrassment to those of us who have worn an MPD uniform.

Chief, with a 2014 homicide clearance rate of just 40 percent, and a per capita murder rate that rivals Chicago’s, maybe it is time to pack it in and call it a career.

Only the bootlickers on the seventh floor of the PAB or the Internal Affairs ‘yes men’ will bother to wave goodbye to Ed Flynn as he trots off to the east coast for a cushy consultant’s position.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014


Police Use of Force: A Wedge Issue for Grievance Politicians

The use of force by law enforcement has been the issue du jour in the news lately.   While Michael Brown’s death in Ferguson, Missouri has dominated national headlines, the shooting death of unarmed Dontre Hamilton, a troubled 31-year-old man killed by a police officer at Milwaukee’s Red Arrow Park in April, resulted in a smaller, yet similar, protest last Friday.

Some of the African-American political officials present brought a litany of complaints to the table: the high rate of joblessness in the black community, poverty, ignorance, and despair.  While serving in their public capacities, however, many of these same African-American officials have actually done little to pass laws that would significantly curb the use of excessive police force.

For instance, state legislatures can pass laws that expand the rights of individuals beyond those that are constitutionally protected.  One example is Wisconsin state statute 946.75, which criminalizes an officer’s denial of an individual’s request “…to consult and be advised by an attorney at law at personal expense, whether or not such person is charged with a crime” while in police custody.  From my experience, though, the most effective way to curb police abuse is not the criminalization of some forms of law enforcement conduct.   After all, how many officers have ever been convicted for violating § 946.75?  None that I know of, even though there have been documented instances of police officers violating this statute.

Some, especially civil rights attorneys, believe lawsuits are the answer, even though the vast majority of the monetary costs and damages associated with police officer lawsuits are absorbed by a municipality’s insurance.  Consequently, the only persons actually feeling any pain from police officer use of force lawsuits are the taxpayers.

Most law enforcement officers and district attorneys are going to cringe when they read this; nevertheless, the most effective way to marginalize the use of excessive force is the suppression of evidence.  The U.S. Supreme Court appeared to steer the nation’s courts this way in Graham v. Conner, 490 U.S. 386 (1989); whereby, the Court shifted the constitutional protection of an excessive use of police force (for those not incarcerated in jails or prisons) from the Fourteenth Amendment to the Fourth Amendment, in effect, making an excessive use of force tantamount to an unlawful seizure.

Defense attorneys soon realized that a remedy to an unlawful seizure might be the suppression of evidence, and cases began working their way through the courts.   In U.S. v. Watson, 558 F.3d 702,  the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals abruptly put the kibosh on such a defense by finding no casual connection between the evidence collected and the seizure of a defendant via an excessive use of police force, even though the sole purpose of suppression is to discourage police misconduct.  The Wisconsin Court of Appeals used the Watson decision as a catalyst to negate the suppression of evidence based on excessive police use of force in State v. Herr, 346 Wis. 2d 603.

Regardless of the U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruling or a Wisconsin court’s finding in State v. Herr, the state legislature can — when it sees fit — offer more rights by law than the Constitution or the courts grant.  If the Milwaukee delegation in the state legislature is so outraged by what it sees as a pattern of excessive force on the part of the police, why is it then that not one Democrat has offered a bill to suppress evidence seized after a police use of excessive force, not even during the Doyle years when the Democrats controlled all three branches of government?

Some officers believe that the police use of force is being used by Democrats as a wedge issue.  In other words, African-American lawmakers use these protests to garner some street credibility and to gin-up their political base, but, when the rubber meets the road, they fail to propose legislation that would suppress evidence gathered as a result of an excessive use of police force.  In this way, the issue of excessive force stays alive for yet another day to be used whenever the grievance political community sees fit.

Unfortunately, based on the turnout at Friday’s protest at Red Arrow Park, it appears that Democrat lawmakers from Milwaukee are playing their base like a fiddle.

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Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at Amazon.com.

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit www.badgerwordsmith.com and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2014