At least 16 Milwaukee police officers have been disciplined after internal investigators concluded they had committed acts of domestic violence, say internal affairs records obtained by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Department leaders don’t follow national standards on how to handle accusations of domestic violence against officers. Prosecutors often charge them with lesser crimes – or no crimes. As a result, officers who abuse their spouses or romantic partners are allowed to keep their jobs, carry loaded weapons, and respond when battered women call for help.
Police agencies that tolerate abusive officers endanger victims, erode the community’s trust, and make themselves vulnerable to lawsuits, said Judy Munaker, who spent five years training cops on officer-related domestic violence through the state Office of Justice Assistance. “They see it as protecting their own, but it’s corruption,” she said. “They need to stop protecting their own and start protecting victims.” Last year the wife of a high-ranking commander in the division that investigates officer misconduct called 911 in fear of her husband. No one wrote up a report. Just three Milwaukee officers disciplined for abusing spouses or romantic partners ended up with criminal records. None of those convictions was for a felony or misdemeanor domestic violence, which would have ended their careers by stripping them of the right to carry guns under federal law.