Sexual Assault and the Milwaukee Police Department

| Reproaction

By: Nataley Neuman

The city of Milwaukee has a long-documented history of violence perpetrated by law enforcement. [1] The Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) is known to have problems stemming from racism, corruption, discriminatory policing, and over-policing without accountability. The lack of accountability for corruption and misconduct has created and exacerbated deep rooted tensions and distrust of law enforcement within communities of color and low-income communities. In October 2019, Ayotunde Bello, an MPD officer, was arrested for second-degree sexual assault by use of force and felony misconduct. Despite those charges, Bello was not fired and instead was suspended with pay from the MPD. [2] This case is not an anomaly and serves as an example of sexual misconduct by police officers. Reproductive justice and human rights advocates must always seek justice and speak out against sexual misconduct by predatory members of the police force.

In 2011, almost 100 MPD officers were disciplined for violating the law, ranging from drunk driving to domestic violence and sexual assault; however, half a dozen officers who were disciplined faced no legal consequences for their illegal and abhorrent behavior. One incident involving the sexual assault of two women by a police officer resulted in no consequences whatsoever, and that same MPD officer faced two separate accusations of sexual misconduct within two years. He avoided criminal charges and was only suspended for 60 days. [3] In the same year, three Milwaukee police officers returned to their jobs after being accused of sexual misconduct on the job. [4]

Of the nearly 100 police officers that were disciplined for violating the law, 16 were disciplined for domestic violence. According to an internal investigation by the MPD in 2011, national standards for domestic violence accusations against police officers were not followed. It’s important to note that it’s nearly “impossible to tell how many domestic incidents the Milwaukee Police Department has not investigated.” [5] Only three of the 16 officers received any sort of mark on their record. Not only were MDP accused of domestic violence allowed to keep their jobs, but they were also permitted to carry loaded firearms and respond to domestic violence calls.

Sexual violence and assault is the second most frequently reported form of police misconduct. [6] Because instances of domestic violence and sexual assault are generally thought to be underreported [7, 8], it’s hard to know how many instances of sexual violence, assault, and domestic violence have been committed by members of Milwaukee’s police force. It’s no surprise that Milwaukee residents and communities – namely marginalized communities, such as communities of color, low-income communities, LGBTQIA+ individuals, people who use drugs, sex workers, and others – have a deep-rooted distrust of police and law enforcement. As reproductive justice advocates, we must speak out against sexual misconduct and violence perpetuated by law enforcement in Milwaukee and everywhere.

Learn more by checking out Reproaction’s Act and Learn webinar, Seeking Justice: Sexual Assaults by Police.

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