Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas called for the community to come together and start to address the disparities that have helped fuel mass protests in Wisconsin.
“There’s been a lot of challenges and disparities that have not been addressed,” Lucas said in an interview aired Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com. “It hurts me to see what’s going on in this community.”
Lucas also delivered a message to young people who have joined protests demanding racial justice after the death of an unarmed black man in the custody of Minneapolis police.
“I want the young people who are out in our streets each night to know that we hear your voice. This sheriff has heard you,” said Lucas, who is African-American. “I am doing everything I can to engage those elected officials, the private sector, and others to come together and let’s begin a substantive discussion on the issues, and then begin a process of addressing those issues.”
Lucas also was critical of the knee-to-neck restraint technique that led to Floyd’s death.
“Any (law enforcement) agency that has not addressed that by their policy or certainly by their enforcement, telling their members not use such methods, is a department that is still living in the dark ages,” he said.
Also on the program, two lawmakers discussed bills related to police use of deadly force and investigations of officer-involved deaths.
Sen. LaTonya Johnson, D-Milwaukee, is co-sponsoring a bill that she said would require use of deadly force to be a last resort.
“I think this bill is necessary, first of all, because Milwaukee has been here before,” she said. “We know that the problem that exists between the community and law enforcement doesn’t just surround the George Floyd incident. It’s a very real feeling right here in the city of Milwaukee.”
Johnson said her bill also would help protect vulnerable populations from police use of deadly force and prohibit disciplinary actions against officers who report the use of excessive force by other officers.
State Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, a former police officer, is working on a bill that would change the way officer-involved deaths are investigated.
“We’ve been working on putting together a team, it would be like a National Transportation Safety Board team. Anytime there is an event or a loss of life, law enforcement is involved, they would be ready to go,” Wanggaard said.
“This team would be on the scene, they would be doing an independent parallel investigation, to look at the function of — how did this happen, why did this happen? Is it a function of not doing good vetting with hiring of officers; is it about issues going on in the officer’s life, is it a training issue. Can we do better training?” Wanggaard said.
See more from the program: