In the past 16 months, Milwaukee taxpayers have paid nearly $500,000 in wages and benefits to 26 police officers who were suspended for alleged misconduct, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. One officer who was suspended for 239 days received $48,000 while off the job. State law requires that police departments pay suspended officers while the cases against them are investigated. Another state law that applies only to Milwaukee guarantees that fired police officers are paid while they appeal their firing. Since 1994, the city has paid $2 million to 30 officers after they were fired.
Two aldermen and a state legislator questioned the time it takes to conduct investigations while suspended officers are compensated by taxpayers. “To be paid while your case is pending is a vacation,” said state Rep. Pedro Colón (D-Milwaukee). “I am troubled by the cases which languish for a long period of time.” Alderman Bob Donovan, chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said the time officers spend on suspension was especially troubling given roughly 200 officer vacancies. “It is a concern that any investigation takes that long,” he said. “I have got constituents clamoring for more police presence, for bike patrols and beat officers, and we are barely able to respond to calls.”