Law enforcement agencies withdraw from convention duty over tear gas rules | USA News

More than 100 United States law enforcement agencies are pulling out of deals to send personnel to beef up security at next month’s Democratic National Convention in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in part because they are concerned about a recent directive ordering police In the city, stop using tear gas to control crowds. .

Last week, a citizen oversight commission ordered the Milwaukee police chief to publicly explain why the department used tear gas during the protests in late May and early June after the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis and that it changed policies. Milwaukee police to ban the use of tear gas and pepper spray. The Milwaukee Police and Fire Commission said in its order that Police Chief Alfonso Morales could be fired if he does not comply.

That order came amid intense scrutiny of police tactics at protests in Portland, Oregon and elsewhere.

Since the Milwaukee order was issued, more than 100 law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin and across the United States have decided not to come to Milwaukee, Morales told WTMJ-TV on Tuesday. They were concerned about directives placed in the police department, which include not allowing tear gas or pepper spray, he said.

Morales did not say which agencies would not come or how many officers were still expected. The original plan was to have 1,000 officers available from outside agencies to help with security. Morales said he was considering using the US National Guard or requesting federal assistance.

The convention, scheduled for August 17-20 at the Wisconsin Center in downtown Milwaukee, has been reduced to a primarily virtual event, with only about 300 people expected to attend in person. Most of the speeches will be delivered online from other locations, though former Vice President Joe Biden has said he will be in Milwaukee to accept the nomination for the presidential race. Despite the smaller scale of the event, police are preparing for potentially large protests in and around the scene.

Fond du Lac, Wisconsin Police Chief William Lamb told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the deals were crumbling, saying he hopes other agencies in the state will also withdraw. Lamb chairs the Wisconsin Police Executive Group, which is comprised of chief police officers from cities with populations of more than 20,000 people.

Lamb sent a letter to Milwaukee police on July 6, explaining his organization’s concerns about limiting the use of tear gas and pepper spray. West Allis, Wisconsin police first sent a letter to Morales with concerns in mid-June after the Milwaukee Joint Council temporarily halted the purchase of those chemicals.

“Our concern is that, should protests become non-peaceful, such a policy would eliminate the tools of officers that might otherwise be legal and justifiable to use in specific situations,” said West Allis deputy director Robert Fletcher. , to the Journal Sentinel in an email.

The Waukesha, Wisconsin police chief said he was consulting with the city attorney’s office on how to withdraw from the deal, which had promised about two dozen Waukesha officers.

Not all police departments withdrew due to the tear gas order. The Madison Police Department notified Milwaukee earlier this month that “an accelerated pandemic of COVID-19 coupled with ongoing protests in Madison” has depleted its resources, making it impossible to commit resources to the convention, the Wisconsin State Journal reported.

Madison originally committed to providing 100 officers to Milwaukee for what would have been a 10-day convention before it was shortened and postponed until August.