Milwaukee police officers will have to do more to prevent deaths in custody, under new rules proposed by Chief Edward Flynn, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The regulations, scheduled for a vote today by the city’s Fire and Police Commission, were largely prompted by the death of James Perry. “Any death in custody is a tragedy,” Flynn told the Journal Sentinel last month. “Now, we will, and we have continued, to take every step we can to improve our policies and our training to eliminate preventable in-custody deaths no matter how rare we might believe their occurrence to be.”
Flynn spoke in response to a Journal Sentinel investigation into Perry’s death. Perry, an epileptic, had a seizure in the city lockup in 2010. Police took Perry to Aurora Sinai Medical Center, where medical personnel released him even after officers protested that he was still sick. The officers called their supervisor, who said if the hospital released Perry, there was nothing more they could do. He later soiled himself before dying on the floor of the county jail. An internal police review cleared officers of wrongdoing. Flynn acknowledged that while officers followed procedures, the rules needed to be changed. Under the new procedures, if officers disagree with a doctor’s decision to discharge a prisoner, a supervisor would be required to go to the hospital and discuss the situation with medical staff. If the disagreement persists, even higher ranking police officials would join the conversation.