From the Chief:
Members of the Wauwatosa Police Department, like other law enforcement agencies across the country, were appalled by the recent actions of some officers in Minnesota. We believe that all people are equal under the law, and deserve respect. Wauwatosa Police Officers are not trained in the use of carotid artery pressure restraints, such as choke holds, and their use is not condoned. The Wauwatosa Police Department has a proud, 104 year history of providing professional police services to the citizens of Wauwatosa. While we believe that our officers are some of the most professional and best prepared, we, too, are taking this opportunity to pause and reflect on our duties. I have requested that our current policies and procedures be reviewed and revised to ensure that they continue to reflect what is best for all members of our community.
Barry M. Weber
Chief of Police
Frequently Asked Questions:
In order to better serve our community, and get them timely and relevant information, we have compiled the following list of the most frequently asked questions we have received recently. We invite you to review them and contact us if you have further questions.
- The Wauwatosa Police Department takes reckless driving complaints seriously as they pose a severe threat to pedestrian and motorist safety. There is a balancing test between enforcing the law through the use of traffic citations and utilizing traffic control methods to maintain safe roadways that is continuously reviewed during these periods. Citizen safety is the number one priority, and multiple methods are utilized in assuring that traffic enforcement through citations is only one of those methods.
- The Wauwatosa Police Department has previously and continues to incorporate conflict resolution and communication into routine training that officers receive regularly. Some topics that focus on those skills are Professional Communications, Defensive and Arrest Tactics (DAAT), Vehicle Contacts, and Firearms.
- Wauwatosa Police Officers do not target people for arrest based on their race, gender, sexual preference, or any other biographical descriptor. Wauwatosa Police Officers investigate each incident separately, gathering all the available facts, and make decisions to arrest or not arrest based on the totality of the circumstances available to them at the time.
- Wauwatosa Police Officer candidates must have a minimum of 60-college credits, pass a physical fitness test, participate in and be selected during an eight-hour, in-person assessment center, pass an interview with the civilian Police and Fire Commission, pass a medical and drug screening, pass an exhaustive background investigation, and finally be screened by the department psychologist before they become eligible for hire. The entire process can take upwards of six months to complete. These standards meet or exceed those established by the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Standards Board (LESB). Those standards can be found in the LESB’s Policy and Procedure Manual.
- Wauwatosa Police Officers, like officers across the State of Wisconsin, are taught by the Wisconsin Law Enforcement Standards Board (LESB) to target the central nervous system of the threat’s body. These areas include the upper chest and head. The purpose behind this target zone is that a handgun, rifle, or shotgun round delivered to this area stands the best chance of stopping the threat, removing the need for further force. Officers employ deadly force options in chaotic situations, where their lives and the lives of others are being threatened. Wauwatosa Police Officers are trained to render aid to those individuals they have deployed deadly force against when it becomes safe to do so. It is never the intent of the officer to kill the person, and all reasonable efforts are made to prevent their death.
- Wauwatosa Police Department squad cars are equipped with dash-mounted cameras and Wauwatosa motorcycle officers wear body-worn cameras while riding. The Wauwatosa Police Department has considered the use of police body-worn cameras in the past. At that time, the technology was unable to provide much more than what was already available through the dash-mounted camera systems and the costs of the program were such that it was not feasible. The Wauwatosa Police Department supports the use of body-worn cameras. We are evaluating the feasibility of outfitting the over 95 sworn police officers with them. An intelligent, useful, and transparent body-worn camera program requires more than just the purchase of the equipment, costs that could exceed $400,000 with maintenance and ongoing management of content. A viable plan needs to include funding in perpetuity for video management and storage. Wisconsin Open Records Laws require that videos be maintained and managed, disseminated, and in some cases, redacted before distribution. These tasks require trained personnel to accomplish, and hiring new employees may be required.
- Open communication and transparency are hallmarks of the Wauwatosa Police Department. Unfortunately, ever-changing circumstances can, at times, prevent timely communications. The Department is committed to keeping the citizens of Wauwatosa and other stakeholders informed. The Department has a Public Information Officer (PIO) and several assistants. They routinely communicate with members of the media. The Wauwatosa Police Department also utilizes both Facebook and Twitter as a means of instant communication. The PIO and assistants are all sworn police supervisors, who may be called upon to act in these capacities first. We encourage citizens to reach out to the Department and ask questions. We created this webpage in response to some of the more common questions we have received lately and intend to maintain it with relevant, timely information. A complete re-design of the Department’s webpage is planned for later this year.
- Wisconsin State Statute §62.13 prescribes the duties of Police and Fire Commissions. The Police and Fire Commission in Wauwatosa, made up of five civilian residents, are charged with appointing the police and fire chiefs. Further, per the statute, the board oversees the hiring of police officers and fire personnel. They can review and overturn a disciplinary decision made by either the Police or Fire Chief. The Police and Fire Commission can also remove either chief with just cause.
- Wauwatosa Police Officers, like other sworn officers across the state, are granted due process rights in disciplinary matters. There must be just cause to remove a police officer from sworn service. Before being removed, an internal investigation is completed to determine whether the officer broke policies, procedures, or rules. Upon completion of the investigation, the Chief of Police has the power to discipline the officer based on the totality of the circumstances. The Wauwatosa Police Department utilizes a progressive discipline policy to ensure that discipline is handed out consistently and fairly. If the investigation leads to the just cause supporting the termination of an officer, the Chief of Police will notify the Police and Fire Commission. If, after reviewing the facts, the Police and Fire Commission agree with the Chief’s findings, that officer will be relieved of his/her duties and terminated. Sworn members of the Wauwatosa Police Department holding the rank of police officer, patrol specialist, and detective are represented by the Wauwatosa Police Officers Association (WPOA). The WPOA may provide the officer legal assistance in such an investigation at their discretion
- Officers undergo psychological testing before they are appointed a law enforcement officer as well as additional testing before a promotion within the Department. In order to be eligible for promotion, a psychological evaluation must have been completed within the past three years. Cost-free psychological and counseling services are always available to officers if he/she or the Department recognizes a need or want.
- The investigation of use of deadly force incidents like shootings are lengthy and comprehensive.Before the District Attorney can make a decision, he/she has to review and examine all the facts compiled by the investigating agency as well as by the independent investigators assigned to the district attorney’s office.This information includes, but is not limited to, police reports, forensic and laboratory reports, video evidence (which can include body-worn/squad cameras, surveillance video, citizen cell phone video), available witness statements, etc. Compiling this information can be time-consuming, and tests such as toxicology and pathology can take weeks to be completed.
- The Mayor and Common Council do not have the authority to terminate an officer or the police chief. That authority rests with the Wauwatosa Police and Fire Commission.
- When an officer is involved in a use of deadly force incident, like a shooting, that officer is removed from patrol service and reassigned to administrative duties within the Department until the incident is reviewed by the District Attorney, an internal review of policy and procedure occurs, the officer meets with the department psychologist, and the Chief of Police clears the officer to return to full duty.
- Our officers receive regular training in use of force situations.Officers are trained in Defense and Arrest Tactics (DAAT) while attending the police academy. Those tactics are based upon the requirement to only use that amount of force that is necessary to gain and maintain control. The Wauwatosa Police Department conducts routine refresher training in DAAT, which includes de-escalation training and scenarios where no force is needed to resolve the situation. Officers are also provided regular updates in regards to the legal standards surrounding the use of force. Police officers in Wisconsin are required to attend a minimum of 24-hours of training per year to maintain their certification. Wauwatosa Police Officers average 40-hours of more of training per year, which is above the state standard.
Links to Relevant Documents
To help our stakeholders be better informed when discussing Wauwatosa Police Department policies and procedures, we are providing the following unredacted documents for public review. We intend to add more documents as we move forward.