Feds Agree to Review Milwaukee Police Force

     MILWAUKEE (CN) – At the chief’s request, federal authorities will investigate the Milwaukee Police Department as part of a reform initiative.
     The U.S. Department of Justice, through its Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), will conduct a “lengthy probe into all aspects of force,” according to local news reports.
     Milwaukee is the ninth city to request such an investigation, according to reports.
     The news comes on the heels of a $5 million settlement announcement in 14 illegal strip-search cases in which 74 men, all black, sued the city, claiming police officers publicly strip-searched them without a warrant, in some cases fondling their genitals and reaching into their anal cavities.
     The settlement must be approved by the Milwaukee Common Council and the mayor. According to a letter from the city attorney, 131 officers have been named across all the lawsuits.
     Officer Michal Vagnini, the alleged leader of the four officers forced to resign and criminally convicted for the searches, is serving a two-year prison term.
     The police have also been the subject of scrutiny over the fatal shooting of Dontre Hamilton, a mentally ill man who was shot 14 times after an officer approached him as he slept in a public park.
     Officer Christopher Manney is still fighting his termination stemming from Hamilton’s death, but he was never charged with a crime or civil rights violation.
     In November, six demonstrators, including Hamilton’s brother, gathered at an annual tree-lighting ceremony in the park where Hamilton was killed were arrested for disorderly conduct. They have since been released, according to local news reports.
     Dean Puschnig, a spokesperson for the Justice Department in Eastern Wisconsin, did not immediately respond to a voicemail requesting comment.
     According to the news report, the investigation of the Milwaukee Police Department will be formally announced Thursday at a news conference on the steps of the federal courthouse.

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