Protests have simmered down in Wauwatosa, nearly a week after the Milwaukee County District Attorney decided not to charge officer Joseph Mensah for his role in the deadly shooting of 17-year-old Alvin Cole.
The decision prompted protests and vandalism last week, but due to the large police presence, the city has not experienced anything near what happened in Kenosha last August.
“(Violent protests) can happen at any time,” Wauwatosa Police Chief Barry Weber told WTMJ’s Jeff Wagner during WTMJ 2021. “You wonder what they’re trying to gain from setting a building on fire. There is nothing positive that comes from that. That’s not how change happens. Nothing productive ever happens because of it.”
“By in large, this group has not been violent, which is a great relief.”
People have the right to protest, Weber explained, but “(protestors) in our city are not always peaceful.”
“I don’t think people have the right to disrupt neighborhoods and or close down businesses,” he explained. “Civil disobedience has never been allowed by the Constitution and it still isn’t. By in large, this group has not been violent, which is a great relief.”
Protests also cost money, according to the chief.
“There is going to be a big price tag that taxpayers will foot the bill for,” he said. “There is a lot of overtime for the officers.”
Wauwatosa officers will wear body cams by the end of the year, thanks to a new contract approved by the city’s common council earlier this month.
“I’ve always been in favor of body cameras,” Weber claimed. “Any tool you have that can help clear a police officer or explain an incident; why would we be against something like that?”
Body cams may not always shed light on an incident, the chief warned.
“People want body cameras. And that’s great. But some people believe body cams explain everything about an incident but that’s not necessarily true.”
Weber has worked in law enforcement for nearly 50 years.
“It has gotten a lot more complex,” he admitted.
New job challenges include finding quality recruits.
“Right now, policing is not popular,” Weber said. “The pool of applicants is much less than what it used to be.”
New officers also have high expectations, according to the chief.
“Sometimes you get young people who say ‘Wait a minute, you want me to work nights and holidays and weekends?’ They don’t want to do that.”