At least 93 Milwaukee police officers have been disciplined for violating law
By GINA BARTON
At least 93 Milwaukee police officers — ranking from street cop to captain — have been disciplined for violating the laws and ordinances they were sworn to uphold, a Journal Sentinel investigation found.
Their offenses range from sexual assault and domestic violence to drunken driving and shoplifting, according to internal affairs records. All still work for the Police Department, where they have the authority to make arrests, testify in court and patrol neighborhoods.
Officers who run afoul of the law often aren’t fired or prosecuted, the newspaper found. Consider:
At least six officers disciplined by the department for illegal behavior suffered no legal consequences whatsoever. One was Reginald Hampton, accused of sexually assaulting two women he met on duty. Another was Mark Kapusta, suspended after a woman said he pointed a gun at her head during a drunken road-rage incident. Neither officer was charged or ticketed.
Twenty-three officers got breaks from prosecutors that allowed them to avoid being convicted of serious charges — or any charges at all — as long as they didn’t commit more crimes and followed prosecutors’ instructions. One was Patrick Fuhrman, originally charged with a felony for a beating that sent his wife to the hospital and, according to a witness, left blood in every room of their house. A conviction on that charge could have gotten him fired from the department, banned from carrying a gun for life and imprisoned for 3½ years. Instead, he ended up with two tickets for disorderly conduct.
Nine of the 93 officers were convicted of crimes. Some even spent time behind bars. Yet when their criminal cases were concluded, they went back to their careers with the Milwaukee police. At least one, John P. Corbett, was a police sergeant by day and an inmate by night. Convicted of driving drunk with a child in the car, Corbett did his job at the police station while on work release from jail. His 13-year-old daughter told authorities Corbett took the wheel after she got lost driving back from a tavern.
The Police Department, district attorney’s office and Fire and Police Commission share responsibility for keeping officers in line.
All three fall short.
The department tolerates misconduct. Prosecutors give cops career-saving deals. The commission reduces punishments when officers break the rules. As a result, police who have crossed to the other side of the law keep the power that comes with the badge. Meanwhile, citizens have no way of knowing whether the officers responsible for protecting them have tarnished records.
None of the agencies has a comprehensive list of cops who have broken the law.
It took the Journal Sentinel nearly two years of records requests, a court case and $7,500 in fees to compile the list of 93 — which is about 5% of the force. The list doesn’t include cops with juvenile records, arrests before they were hired or discipline under different department rules.
What’s more, no department policy prevents officers from enforcing the same laws they’ve been disciplined for breaking. An intoxicated motorist may be stopped — or allowed to drive on — by one of more than 30 cops who have been arrested for drunken driving. A woman who calls 911 in fear of her husband may be met by one of more than a dozen officers with a history of domestic violence.
Cops who break the law should be fired, said Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke, who worked for the Milwaukee Police Department for 24 years. Illegal conduct undermines officers’ authority and erodes the public trust, he said.
“There should be a higher standard for (an) . . . employee who enforces the law than for a worker who cuts the grass,” Clarke said. “There’s no understanding why a cop would drive drunk. There’s no understanding why a cop would be abusive to a spouse. When you start to justify and rationalize this type of behavior, it gets ugly.”
The newspaper’s review — the first of its kind involving the Milwaukee police — has uncovered information even those in charge of the department didn’t know.
In a recorded speech to officers, the audio portion of which was obtained by the Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said he was surprised at the large number of officers arrested for driving drunk.
“We’ve got an issue of conduct here that’s related to culture that we need to confront and deal with,” he said.
A video of the speech was shown to officers a month after a Journal Sentinel reporter shared the newspaper’s key findings with a police spokeswoman and asked for an interview with the chief. In the speech, Flynn announced a new program of training, support and discipline for officers dealing with alcohol-related problems.
He also warned of the newspaper’s investigation.
“I understand they are going to post . . . names on their website,” Flynn said during the presentation. “They are also selecting . . . officers for special scrutiny in their newspaper, with the operating question being whether they should be police officers given their prior conduct.”
Flynn didn’t answer that question in the video. He also wouldn’t answer questions about the newspaper’s findings. Instead, he issued a one-sentence statement:
“We recognize that alcohol abuse, divorce and suicide are overrepresented in the law enforcement profession, and we actively educate, intervene, discipline and provide resources for our members to ensure they understand the inherent risks of the job, and the personal and professional consequences of their behavior.”
Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm also would not discuss the problem with a reporter. His chief deputy, Kent Lovern, provided a written statement, pointing out that 70 Milwaukee officers have been charged over the past 10 years.
Of those, 42 were convicted of misdemeanors or felonies under Milwaukee County’s jurisdiction, according to an analysis by the newspaper. Most of them are no longer on the force.
But the list was started in 2000, making it incomplete. About one-third of the officers identified by the newspaper were disciplined before that point.
Mayor Tom Barrett, who recruited Flynn to Milwaukee and who appoints the members of the Fire and Police Commission, also refused to meet with a reporter. He issued a statement supporting the chief and the commission.
Only Michael G. Tobin, executive director of the Fire and Police Commission, agreed to discuss the issue with the Journal Sentinel.
Significant improvements have been made to the commission — a civilian board that oversees hiring and discipline — over the past decade, he said. In 2001, the board began requiring a written psychological test for job candidates. Since 2005, it has been followed up with an in-person mental health exam.
In addition to getting a new slate of members in recent years, the commission was reorganized in 2008, Tobin said. Two independent investigators now handle citizen complaints to the commission. In the past, the commission referred complaints to the department.
The commission also has hired a research analyst who studies trends within the department, including use of force and vehicle pursuits. Some of those reports have resulted in improved training for officers, Tobin said.
As for disciplinary appeals, commissioners can’t always do what they want — they must follow procedures dictated by state law, Tobin said. He believes they try their best to protect the public without violating officers’ rights.
“It’s not a fail-safe system,” he said. “With the passage of time it could be proven that a different course of action could have been taken.”
Only on the force
The 93 officers identified during the newspaper’s two-year investigation include only those the department concluded broke the law while on the force. To compile the list, the newspaper reviewed officers’ disciplinary records and built a database of discipline imposed since their hire dates, which range from 1979 to 2010.
The department provided the disciplinary records over a one-year period beginning in January 2010. The list may not include incidents or discipline that occurred after the records were released. It does not include officers hired after 2010. Officers who left the force after Oct. 1 may not have been removed.
More than half the officers disciplined for violating laws or ordinances were suspended for three days or less, according to the newspaper’s analysis.
Seven officers were fired but got their jobs back during the appeal process. Four were reinstated by the Fire and Police Commission; two reached agreements with chiefs to return to work; and one was rehired as the result of a settlement in a discrimination lawsuit.
Nine officers were disciplined for more than one instance of illegal behavior. Five were disciplined for breaking the law while employed as police aides — a program that gives teenagers a head start on becoming recruits — yet were allowed to become officers anyway.
No one tracks how many cops committed crimes before they were hired. A state law that keeps job applications secret and blocks access to their birth dates makes it impossible for the public to figure out that number.
Until about four years ago, applicants with multiple misdemeanor convictions could be hired as Milwaukee police officers, as long as the offenses were not domestic violence and did not occur within three years of applying.
“Now there’s no magic number,” Tobin said. “Every time there’s even a single one, that individual gets greater scrutiny.”
Several other states ban convicted drug dealers, people who have lied in court and people with recent drunken-driving convictions from working in law enforcement. Not Wisconsin. A state law here prohibits all employers — even police departments — from discriminating against applicants with misdemeanor criminal records unless their convictions are related to the job.
Which crimes are considered related to the job of policing is open to interpretation, Tobin said.
The only absolute bars to working in law enforcement here are felonies or crimes of domestic violence, because federal law precludes people convicted of those crimes from carrying guns.
Once officers are on the job, it is difficult to convict them of crimes. Experts say jurors are inherently biased in favor of police.
“Your competence and credibility sort of come with the badge,” said Dennis C. Elias, who serves on the board of the American Society of Trial Consultants. “Additionally, people don’t want to believe the people that we trust to protect us would ever do anything bad.”
Deputy District Attorney Lovern has acknowledged that prosecutors take police credibility into consideration when deciding whether to issue charges.
“We always have to consider how a jury will react in considering evidence against a police officer,” he said in January, after his office declined to charge fired officer Ladmarald Cates with an on-duty rape.
Federal authorities later launched an investigation, and the U.S. attorney’s office secured an indictment against Cates on two felony charges last month. He has pleaded not guilty and is scheduled for trial Jan. 9.
Five prior allegations
Cates was indicted and fired amid allegations that he raped a woman after responding to her 911 call in July 2010. The Journal Sentinel examined the case and published an interview with the victim in January. The newspaper later found Cates had been accused of breaking the law five times before, all without being charged or losing his job. Three of the previous allegations involved sexual misconduct — two with female prisoners and one with a 16-year-old girl who said he offered her cash in exchange for sex.
Another Milwaukee cop who avoided criminal charges because prosecutors thought the evidence wouldn’t stand up in court was Mark Kapusta.
Here is what the woman who encountered Kapusta at a southwest side intersection told investigators, according to a summary of the internal investigation:
She was helping her boyfriend deliver newspapers around 4:45 a.m. Jan. 20, 2006, when she turned the corner. The driver of a black pickup truck, who also had been waiting to turn, started honking his horn. He pulled behind her, swerving all over the road.
When she honked back at him, the man pulled his truck in front of her car, forcing her to stop. The man, who turned out to be Kapusta, got out of the truck, yelling. His bloodshot eyes and slurred speech told the woman he was probably drunk.
He was holding a gun.
Kapusta, who was not in uniform, approached the woman’s car. Her window was partially open. He pointed his weapon through it, aiming at her head.
“Put your hands where I can see them!” he shouted. “I’m the f---ing police!”
She feared she was about to die.
But Kapusta didn’t fire.
The woman told him she was going to call the police, and he went back to his truck and drove away.
The woman’s boyfriend told investigators a similar story, except he said he did not see Kapusta point the gun at the woman’s head, according to the summary. The document does not name the boyfriend. He could not be reached for this story.
When two sergeants showed up at Kapusta’s house around 7 a.m., he didn’t answer the door.
Two hours later, two detectives knocked for 10 minutes before an intoxicated Kapusta came to the door, the summary says. One of the detectives overheard Kapusta on the phone, telling his partner: “I f---ed up.” Asked about it later that day, Kapusta’s partner said he “did not recall” the statement.
Around noon — seven hours after the incident — Kapusta’s blood-alcohol level was 0.15, nearly twice the legal limit for driving, the summary says.
Kapusta did not respond to requests for comment. Here is what he told investigators, according to the summary:
After he finished work around midnight, he had two drinks with fellow officers. Around 4:30 a.m., he was on his way home when he noticed the car behind him following too closely and too quickly. Kapusta, who was assigned to the gang unit, suspected its occupants were gang members who recognized his truck. Kapusta approached the car, showed his badge, and identified himself as a police officer, keeping his gun at his side, he said.
He instructed the woman to call 911 because he was afraid of her boyfriend. But then the couple left, so he went home.
At first, Kapusta said he went to sleep as soon as he arrived. He later changed his story to say he went home, drank five to seven shots of alcohol, and then went to sleep.
About two weeks after the incident, the woman called investigators and said she was too afraid to continue pursuing charges, the summary says. Although she denied being intimidated or threatened, she would not come to the door to discuss her decision with a detective because she was terrified, her boyfriend told police.
Without the woman’s cooperation, Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Karen Loebel concluded she could not prove the case, the summary says.
Nannette Hegerty, police chief at the time, initially fired Kapusta. While his appeal was pending before the Fire and Police Commission, she agreed to reduce his punishment to a 60-day suspension and allow him to remain on the force, records say.
Records do not explain Hegerty’s reasons for changing her mind. She could not be reached for comment.
Three years later, Kapusta received an award for distinguished service for devising a system to reduce thefts from cars.
In the years following a case in which seven police officers were convicted of beating a man at a Bay View party that was held seven years ago this week, both DA Chisholm and Chief Flynn vowed to take a hard line on officer misconduct.
That didn’t happen in the case of Patrick Fuhrman, who beat his wife so badly there was blood in every room of their house, according to a summary of the internal investigation.
Fuhrman’s wife and a neighbor who helped her — both police officers themselves — gave the following description of events, according to the summary:
When Fuhrman’s wife got home from work on Nov. 3, 2008, she was upset because he had told her he wanted a divorce. She tried to talk with him, but the conversation turned into an argument.
Then it turned physical.
Fuhrman grabbed his wife by the neck and threw her to the ground. The force caused her to hit her head on the floor and bite her lip. He punched her several times in the head, then in the nose. While she was on the ground, he kicked her and stomped on her repeatedly, calling her a “n----- lovin’ crazy whore woman.”
She was able to get up from the floor, but he came at her again. She threw her police baton at him but missed, cracking the TV screen.
“You disgust me,” he said, laughing. “I should have never married you. If you are going to fight, you should learn how.”
Then Fuhrman left for work and his wife went to Community Memorial Hospital. She arrived with bruises on her face, legs, elbows and shoulders, the summary says. She needed three stitches in her lip.
In an interview with internal investigators, Fuhrman admitted throwing his wife to the ground, but said he did it because he wanted to get away from her. Fuhrman also admitted striking her “in the chest, chin and/or face area with an open hand,” but said he only did so after she tried to hit him with the baton. He also said he may have “gotten her in the nose,” the summary says.
When the investigator asked Fuhrman if he had called his wife a whore and used a racial slur, “he stated he called her many things to that effect and that many hurtful things were said by both of them,” the summary says.
Fuhrman also told investigators he was sorry.
“I just want to apologize that I brought shame and embarrassment to the Police Department and to my wife and my family,” he said.
Jeffrey Greipp, then an assistant district attorney, initially charged Fuhrman with domestic violence-related substantial battery, a felony.
A conviction on that charge would have cost him his job.
Within five weeks, prosecutors reduced the felony charge against Fuhrman to misdemeanor battery, according to court records. A conviction on that charge would have knocked him off the force as well. Because his wife was the victim, he would not have been allowed to carry a gun under federal law.
A deferred-prosecution agreement, signed by Assistant District Attorney Gilbert F. Urfer in March 2009, reduced the charge even more and saved Fuhrman’s job.
Agreements for deferred prosecution allow defendants to avoid serious criminal convictions if they meet certain conditions, such as getting treatment and not committing more crimes. They must plead guilty to a crime initially, but the charge is reduced or dismissed if they live up to their end of the bargain.
Fuhrman’s deal required him to plead guilty upfront to two misdemeanor counts of disorderly conduct, which is less serious than battery.
Prosecutors agreed to reduce the charges a third time — to noncriminal tickets — if Fuhrman completed domestic violence treatment, substance abuse assessment and treatment, and a parenting class. For the seven months of the agreement, Fuhrman also agreed not to commit any additional crimes and not to use alcohol or illegal drugs.
“The agreement was offered to Fuhrman at the request of the victim in the matter, and in consideration of the fact that there was more than one consistent account of the events that supported the prosecution,” according to the statement from Lovern, chief deputy prosecutor.
Neither Fuhrman nor his wife responded to requests for interviews.
Lack of cooperation from the victim, which is common in domestic violence cases, is not a valid reason to let an accused batterer go free, said Judy Munaker, who prosecuted such cases in Dane County before working for five years as a state Office of Justice Assistance trainer, where she taught police about officer-involved domestic violence.
Victims of domestic violence almost never participate in prosecution, said Munaker, now a consultant. When the perpetrator is a police officer, cooperation from the victim is even less likely.
“I’ve never had a case with a law enforcement officer when the victim is willing to testify,” she said. “We expect most victims to recant or not testify because they’re trying to stay alive.”
Fuhrman satisfied his conditions and walked out of court with the municipal tickets and a fine. Flynn suspended him for 30 days.
Fuhrman’s personnel record includes an award for arresting an armed robber in 2000. In 2007, he received the chief’s superior achievement award for pursuing an armed suspect.
Fuhrman is among 14 Milwaukee police officers who have benefitted from deferred prosecutions and similar deals known as diversion from Milwaukee County prosecutors. Another four officers have gotten such treatment from prosecutors in other municipalities.
It isn’t easy for the public to figure out all the information about either type of case.
As reported by the Journal Sentinel last year, Chisholm has greatly increased the number of deferred prosecutions since he took office in 2007. He has touted the program as a solution to take pressure off the overcrowded court system, but has not specifically addressed the deferred prosecutions or diversions of police officers.
Deferred prosecutions are supposed to be entered into the state’s online records system, known as CCAP. But that isn’t always done. When it is, the details available electronically are sketchy. The full story is contained only in a paper file at the courthouse.
There are even fewer records of diversion cases, in which prosecutors agree to hold off on filing charges in the first place. In exchange, potential defendants must meet certain conditions, ranging from staying out of trouble to attending counseling or paying restitution. Diversion cases are not entered into the online database. Because prosecutors don’t file charges upfront, there are no paper court records of the deal, either.
The newspaper located limited documentation on diversion cases involving police officers by filing public records requests with the Police Department and district attorney’s office.
Those records also contained information about six officers whose cases were “held open” with instructions from prosecutors to meet certain conditions in order to avoid charges, but without a formal deferred prosecution or diversion agreement.
At least one officer who was offered a diversion agreement, Robert A. Brown II, slipped through the cracks.
Brown was never charged even though he failed to attend anger management classes after a fight with his girlfriend in January 1998, according to a summary of the internal investigation.
The document gives these details:
Brown was arrested for domestic violence battery after the woman, who was six months pregnant with his child, was treated at St. Joseph’s Hospital for cuts on her forehead, neck pain and a swollen nose. The woman told investigators Brown choked her and punched her in the face.
The woman said she wanted to prosecute because Brown had choked her three times before.
Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney William Hanrahan — now a Dane County circuit judge — told Brown he would not issue charges if Brown completed an anger management course and refrained from further violent contact with the victim. Brown agreed.
Nine months after the fight, a police sergeant contacted the district attorney’s office for an update.
“Due to a possible error or oversight on the part of the District Attorney’s office, this case never made it into the diversion program and records indicated Officer Brown never attended the stated program,” the summary says.
In his written statement, Lovern said that because the case was so long ago, he had no information about why charges weren’t filed.
Brown’s only punishment was a one-day suspension. He did not respond to an email seeking comment.
His record also includes recognition for arresting a burglary suspect in 1995.
Altercation with senator
Jeremy Gonzalez, an officer involved in an altercation with state Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee), also was offered a diversion program. Although Gonzalez was still a probationary officer when the incident occurred on Aug. 14, 2004, he was allowed to remain on the force.
Carpenter, who lived upstairs from his elderly parents in a duplex, was running for U.S. Congress at the time. He heard a noise, and he and his father went outside, Carpenter said in an interview.
Gonzalez and his brother had torn down a campaign sign.
“I came out and said, ‘What happened?’ ” Carpenter recalled. “(Gonzalez) got upset. He was kind of combative. He told me to shut my mouth and get inside my house. He (grabbed) my shirt and twisted it and ripped my shirt.”
Meanwhile, Gonzalez’s brother tackled Carpenter’s father, who was in his 80s, Carpenter said.
“My dad went flying through the air,” Carpenter said. “As soon as he hit the ground, he said, ‘Oh, my back.’ It still goes through my mind in slow motion: Standing on our own property, having someone come at my dad like a linebacker going after a quarterback.”
Gonzalez, who did not respond to a certified letter seeking comment, told internal investigators he kicked the sign because he was angry with his brother. After that, Carpenter started the fight by threatening to “kick his ass,” according to a summary of the internal investigation, which also includes Carpenter’s account.
Gonzalez denied shoving Carpenter, as a witness reported, or grabbing his shirt.
Gonzalez’s blood-alcohol level was 0.10, according to the summary. He was arrested for disorderly conduct. As part of his deal to avoid charges, he completed an anger management program.
His brother, Dimitri A. Gonzalez — who is not a police officer — was charged with misdemeanor battery and pleaded no contest, court records show.
Jeremy Gonzalez was suspended for two days. He has not been disciplined since, according to his personnel record.
He has received three awards from the Police Department for meritorious arrests: armed robbers in 2004 and 2007 and a marijuana dealer in 2005.
A few days after Gonzalez’s fight with Carpenter, Jon Reddin, who has since retired as deputy district attorney, told the Journal Sentinel that Carpenter’s reluctance to press charges was part of the reason prosecutors gave the rookie cop a break.
Like Gonzalez, most of the officers disciplined for violating the law did so off duty.
But that isn’t always the case.
As the Journal Sentinel first reported in March, three current officers avoided criminal convictions and kept their jobs after women accused them of on-duty sexual assaults, according to records. Unlike Cates, who ultimately was fired, Reginald Hampton, Milford Adams and Scott Charles kept their jobs.
Hampton was accused by two women he met on the job. Internal investigators referred both cases to the district attorney’s office, but Hampton was never charged. He was not disciplined as a result of the first investigation, in 1990, according to his personnel record.
After the second woman came forward in 1991, then-Chief Philip Arreola fired Hampton. But the punishment was overturned by the Fire and Police Commission, which instead suspended him for 60 days.
The commission also overturned the firing of Adams, who was accused of allowing a woman to avoid arrest in exchange for performing a sex act in his squad car in 2004. The woman previously had been convicted of prostitution and drug charges.
After a jury found Adams not guilty at a criminal trial, the commission rescinded all internal discipline against him, leaving him with a clean employment record.
The commissioners did not find the woman’s testimony credible - in part because the jury in the criminal case did not believe her, according to their written decision.
The third officer, Charles, was accused of sexually assaulting a woman after he pulled her over for drunken driving in 1994, according to a summary of the internal investigation. The investigator concluded that Charles went into the woman’s apartment “under the guise of ensuring her safety . . . and did have an act of sexual contact with her,” the summary says.
The woman told investigators she was very intoxicated and may have blacked out during the assault. Charles told investigators the two sexually touched each other consensually and the woman was not unconscious at any point, the summary says.
Investigators expected Charles would be criminally charged with misconduct in public office, the summary says. But he was not.
The summary does not contain an explanation of why Charles was not charged. The district attorney’s records of the incident no longer exist because of a county policy that calls for the destruction of files in uncharged cases after 10 years, Deputy District Attorney James J. Martin wrote in response to an open records request from the newspaper.
Charles was suspended for 60 days, according to his personnel record. He avoided being fired by receiving satisfactory monthly reports from his supervisor for a year. Charles, who did not appeal the punishment to the commission, has since been promoted to sergeant.
Just because officers haven’t been criminally convicted doesn’t mean they are fit to serve, Sheriff Clarke said.
“That type of behavior is incompatible with working in law enforcement,” he said.
Guilty, but still on force
Even when officers are successfully prosecuted, they don’t automatically lose their jobs.
Nine officers on the force as of Oct. 1 have been convicted of crimes. Of those, seven were prosecuted by the Milwaukee County district attorney’s office. One of them was later pardoned.
The other two convicted cops broke the law while in different jurisdictions.
One of them was John Corbett. He was sentenced to jail by a Fond du Lac County judge, but he didn’t have to take a leave from the Police Department while he served his time.
According to a police report:
A sheriff’s deputy spotted Corbett’s car, alternately swerving across the centerline and weaving onto the shoulder, around 1:30 a.m. Nov. 21, 2010.
When the deputy pulled over the car, she saw two men passed out in the back seat, covered in vomit.
Corbett swayed and stumbled as he performed field sobriety tests such as walking a straight line and standing on one foot. His eyes were red and he smelled of alcohol.
Corbett told the deputy he drank just two beers, but a preliminary breath test showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.18, more than twice the legal limit for driving. Two knives hung from Corbett’s belt, and a handgun was tucked into the passenger side visor.
Corbett’s 13-year-old daughter was crying in the passenger seat. She told another deputy that after a day of deer hunting, she, her father, and some friends went to a bar called Mr. Lucky’s. Because the adults were drunk, the 13-year-old was driving them back to Kiel, where they were staying.
Then she got lost, and her father took over.
Corbett did not respond to a request for comment.
He told internal investigators he had seven drinks over about 7½ hours. He had used the knives to field dress deer, and had forgotten the gun was in the car, he said. Corbett also told investigators he let his daughter drive for about a mile in a rural area, but said it was on the way to the bar, not after they left.
Corbett pleaded guilty to first-offense drunken driving with a child younger than 16 in the car, a misdemeanor. He was fined $1,059, and sentenced to 30 days in jail, which he was allowed to serve in Waukesha County. His driver’s license was suspended for 15 months.
Department spokeswoman Anne E. Schwartz confirmed that Corbett, a desk sergeant, was on the job while on work release from jail. Corbett was on administrative duty, which means his police powers were suspended and he had to turn in his badge and gun. Practically speaking, however, his day-to-day tasks didn’t change much, since desk sergeants generally do paperwork and answer phones and don’t usually respond to emergency calls or make arrests.
Corbett was suspended from the department for 60 days beginning in June, 2½ months after his jail term had ended.
The Police Department should not tolerate drunken driving or domestic violence by officers, said Carpenter, the state senator.
The small percentage of officers who engage in those behaviors or otherwise violate the law make the rest — who do a good job of protecting the city and serving as role models — look bad, he said. And those with a pattern of wrongdoing also could pose a liability for the city.
“Those people need to be screened out and they can’t be allowed on the police force,” he said. “It’s just too dangerous.”
How to file a complaint
Citizens who feel they have been mistreated by a police officer have two ways to file a complaint.
To file with the Fire and Police Commission:
Go to room 706 of City Hall, 200 E. Wells St., from 8 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Monday through Friday; call (414) 286-5000. Or visit http://city.milwaukee.gov/fpc/Complaints to download a complaint form or to view locations where forms are available.
To file with the Police Department:
Go to or call any district station and ask for a supervisor; or call the Professional Performance Division at (414) 935-7942. For more information, visit http://city.milwaukee.gov/Police/CitizenComplaints.htm.
The Journal Sentinel Watchdog team can be reached at (414) 224-2318 or firstname.lastname@example.org