In building a case against Cates, Flynn said the former officer’s history added credibility to the accusations that he raped a 19-year-old woman after her July 911 call.
“We recognize individual cases can be difficult to prove, but a pattern is a pattern,” he said. “If there is a pattern even of unsubstantiated allegations, we recognize it requires a closer look.”
In 2007, the department started using a data-based system in an attempt to identify such trends. The early intervention system, which the department had struggled to implement since 1993, tracks squad car accidents, vehicle pursuits, uses of force, internal investigations (including citizen complaints) and sick leave. Three hits on any combination of those in 90 days flags an officer, who is then required to meet with his or her supervisor.
Because the sexual misconduct allegations against Cates didn’t all occur within three months, the system didn’t identify him, Flynn said.
On the flip side, the system wastes a lot of time because the computer mandates meetings for high-performing officers who simply have been unlucky over a 90-day period, Flynn said. For example, some officers have special Taser training and may be repeatedly ordered by supervisors to use them.
“It’s clear to me the system’s performance has come nowhere near close to its promise,” Flynn said.
While the department is working to improve the system, it is not a substitute for good management and communication, he said. To that end, department managers now analyze employee behavior the same way they analyze crime, using data to evaluate officer performance. Weekly, they review indicators such as sick time. Quarterly, they delve into issues such as citizen complaints.
“Organizationally we’re examining this stuff in a big room with all the accountable commanders at the same time,” Flynn said.
Ultimately, it’s the job of federal authorities to serve as watchdogs, making sure local police and prosecutors aren’t letting officers get away with breaking the law, said Laurie Levenson, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles.
“If you have somebody in a position of authority who may be committing a crime, it’s the feds’ job to investigate,” she said. “They have to objectively evaluate it.”
When FBI agents and the U.S. attorney take on an investigation, they consider a suspect’s entire history, said Leonard Peace, spokesman for the FBI’s Milwaukee office.
“When we do get involved, we will ask for all the information on the individual,” he said. “Personnel, criminal, administrative records. We want everything.”
John Diedrich of the Journal Sentinel staff contributed to this report
March 27, 2011
3 cops back on job after sex complaints
1 is suspended, 2 are fired but reinstated after women allege misconduct on duty
Three Milwaukee police officers disciplined by the department after women accused them of on-duty sexual misconduct continue to wear the badge, a Journal Sentinel investigation found.
One of the officers, Scott D. Charles, served a 60-day suspension and has since been promoted to sergeant.
The other two, Reginald L. Hampton and Milford Adams, were fired but reinstated after appealing to the civilian Fire and Police Commission, which has the authority to conduct its own disciplinary investigations and to overturn punishments imposed by the chief.
Recently fired officer Ladmarald Cates — accused of raping a woman after he responded to her 911 call in July — hopes to use the same appeals process to get his job back. Like the other three, he is accused of using his police authority to prey on vulnerable women.
The complaints against the other three date from 1990 to 2004. In Adams’ case, a woman said he agreed not to arrest her if she performed a sex act. The other two officers were accused of having inappropriate sexual contact with women in their homes. In all three cases, internal affairs investigators concluded the officers deserved discipline.
After appealing his firing to the commission, Hampton, who was not criminally charged, was suspended for 60 days. Adams, who was charged with felony misconduct in public office but acquitted by a jury, was not disciplined by the commission at all.
Their cases show that without a criminal conviction, officers who are the subject of sexual misconduct complaints deemed credible by the department can keep their jobs — even if the police chief wants them fired.
Carmen Pitre, co-executive director of the Sojourner Family Peace Center, said abusive officers are particularly dangerous to victims. Not only that, they cast a shadow of doubt on the good work done by the rest of the force, she said.
“Police officers have a lot of power in their hands and when they abuse that power, we have to take a very firm stand on that not being acceptable,” she said.
Adams and Charles did not return telephone messages. Hampton and Cates did not respond to letters left at their homes. Their attorneys also did not comment on the misconduct allegations.
Michael G. Tobin, who was appointed executive director of the Fire and Police Commission in November 2007, defended the group’s work. Its hearings are independent and based on the rule of law, he said.
“Unless you sit through the whole hearing just like a jury would, it’s really hard to second-guess what their final finding is, because so many things can happen in the hearing that are unexpected,” he said. “They’re always trying to do the best thing. There is no ulterior motive involved.”