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Reporter’s Notebook – Odds and ends
Who will hire the new Police Chief?
By DAVIDA AMENTA
ShorewoodNewsroom staff writer
SHOREWOOD, Wis. (September 16, 2021) – The Village is hiring a new Police Chief, in an atmosphere of heightened scrutiny regarding social justice and racial disparities in policing. Also, in light of the Weiss study which laid the groundwork for police reform in Shorewood. These five people have a significant role.
One of the more active Commissioners, Chuck Carlson, resigned his seat and advised President Ann McKaig that she should ask the other four to also resign, in order to install a Commission that reflects the values of equity, diversity and inclusion. Carlson recommended Michelle Waite as his replacement. Waite is a Black woman, whose family has worked in law enforcement and has three children in Shorewood schools.
Carlson has ripped the lid off the PC inner workings, describing that when he asked for the PC to meet to explain roles and responsibilities, then PC Chair Mike O’Brien told him their role was “essentially to only hire officers and that the process was to follow the directions of the Chief of Police, ask the questions the Chief provided and hire the officer the Chief wants as soon as possible before the candidate is lost”. [Carlson’s recollection of the conversation]. Carlson was only informed about local regulations, Section 504, re the Police Commission by Weiss. Carlson repeatedly asked for meetings to discuss complaint process and the Weiss report but could not get another member of the Commission to second his request.
In just four months, President McKaig has had the chance to make two appointments to the Police Commission. Immediately after her election, she chose to reappoint Rick Cole. Cole is an attorney, and instructor in criminal justice at MATC, and a former police officer. Cole has served on the Police Commission since 2017, and since McKaig’s policy is to automatically reappoint commission members without consideration to their views, she granted Cole a five-year term on the Commission. While Cole has not publicly stated his position on the Weiss report, two of the Police Commissioners, commonly thought to be O’Brien and Cole, contacted Weiss after the draft study was released and contested his conclusions.
After Carlson’s resignation, McKaig appointed Barney Moore, a Black man, who had originally put in an application in 2019. While McKaig had pledged in an email dated August 5 to interview all applicants and that she is “thinking of ways to increase community input” she did not interview three members of the Shorewood Police Accountability Committee, Michelle Waite (a Black woman) or two other residents, Elly Pick and Aaron Shutz.
Reacting to Carlson’s email regarding her reappointment of Cole, McKaig admitted that she could understand how her failure to replace all five Commissioners is seen as a failure to come through on her platform. She apologized for letting the community down. However, when given a second chance by Carlson, by way of his resignation, McKaig accused Carlson of being “paternalistic” and “incredibly disrespectful.” She established her credentials as a “professional in the area of youth justice reform advocacy.” Carlson, on the other hand, is dismissed as a white man who is putting himself at the center of the process, calling him a “White man, as a self-appointed expert in an issue in which you are not at risk.”
But while Carlson is gone, it seems that current PC Chair Rick Cole may have listened to some of his suggestions. Cole has hired an attorney to attend PC meetings and he has asked that PC meetings be recorded. He also brought up the issue of handling public input on the upcoming Chief hiring.
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