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Milwaukee Community Oriented Policing Report Released

The Wisconsin Policy Forum’s recently published the "Common Ground: Enhancing Community Oriented Policing in Milwaukee" report that focused on improving community-oriented policing and community engagement. "Common Ground" summarizes the 16 public safety listening sessions from the summer of 2022 to the winter of 2024 held in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office, Milwaukee Police Department, Office of Violence Prevention, the civilian oversight authority called the Fire and Police Commission, and community-based organizations like Pathfinders and NAACP.


Mayers Strategic Solutions LLC assisted them in developing the run-of-show and program and in co-facilitating each of the public safety listening sessions. I also assisted the Wisconsin Policy Forum in its 24-peer city analysis. This report will inform the City of Milwaukee in the creation of the Community-Oriented Policing Plan (also called the Citywide Public Safety Plan) which will be codified and enforced through a local ordinance to address crime and community-police relations.

Mayers' contributions to the report are noted in the preface:

Finally, we would like to thank Carlton T. Mayers II, Esq., for serving as the third-party facilitator at each of the listening sessions. Mr. Mayers brings years of experience in criminal justice, public safety, and policing reform to the table, as the founder, owner, and CEO of Mayers Strategic Solutions, LLC. He has overseen similar projects in cities across the country that include Baltimore, Chicago, Kalamazoo, and Ferguson, Missouri. We thank him for ensuring that each listening session 
was productive, informative, and did an ample job of contributing to the future of community oriented policing in Milwaukee. We also thank him for his contributions to the report’s peer city analysis.

Key Takeaways

  • The Community Empowerment-Centered® Approach and its vehicle, the C.A.T. (Community Empowerment, Accountability, Transparency) Method®, were used to develop and conduct each of the 16 public safety listening sessions.

  • The public safety listening sessions showed that residents’ views of public safety are broader than law enforcement and include well-lit streetlights, walkable sidewalks, clean neighborhoods, etc.  For instance, lead service lines and structural damage to public spaces and structures were items residents brought up when asked what makes a neighborhood less safe. These items generally fall within the purview of the city’s Department of Public Works and the Milwaukee Water Works; and not Milwaukee Police Department (MPD).

  • Mentimeter was used to conduct each of the 16 public safety listening sessions via cellphones, laptops, tablets (personal and temporarily provided).

  • Highlights resident-led policymaking to increase the level of civilian involvement in police department policy beyond oversight of police misconduct.

  • Includes a 24-peer city analysis, which highlights evidence-based best practices in cities such as: Newark, NJ; Cleveland, OH; Albuquerque, NM; Tucson, AZ; Baltimore, MD; Memphis, TN; and Cincinnati, OH.

  • Several community members and groups stated that the challenges related to turnout for the public safety listening sessions were due to the presence of Milwaukee Police Dept. officers at every session; especially in their uniform instead of plainclothes.

  • Residents highlighted that all non-sworn and sworn officers (including patrol officers, supervisory staff, etc.) should be involved in building bonds between law enforcement and community members (including mandatory implicit bias, de-escalation, and trauma-informed care police trainings); not necessarily just Community Liaison Officers (CLO’s) and similar positions.

  • Even without the presence of crime, the lack of good lighting and cleanliness in a neighborhood might create the appearance of neglect, which could in turn foster further criminal activity.

  • The youth cited a need for “trauma-informed care,” “safety,” “inclusivity,” “proper communication,” and “safe adults.”

  • Youth also highlighted a need for safe spaces to engage in constructive activities like playing sports, doing arts and crafts, and getting internship and employments opportunities. Many wondered about the potential for vacant lots around the city to be converted into recreation centers and multi-purpose facilities.

  • Session attendees from a diverse array of neighborhoods stated that an increase in reckless driving and speeding were contributing to worsening conditions in their communities. For many, creative infrastructure – like bollards, speed bumps, sidewalk bump-outs, additional signage, and even red-light cameras – could shift some of the burden away from MPD by forcing drivers to slow down.

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