OZAUKEE COUNTY — Law enforcement agencies in Ozaukee County are addressing concerns from residents regarding bias and racism in policing.
They’ll sit down virtually with community leaders Wednesday night to open up a dialogue.
“The police chiefs and myself, we all decided that this is something we wanted to do to make sure [the community] heard our voice,” Ozaukee County Sheriff Jim Johnson told WTMJ. “I think there was a disconnect with some citizens not understanding what law enforcement had been doing in that past and what we’ve done since this question was re-raised by the community.”
Community advocates say it’s just a step towards progress.
“We are small town suburbia out here, so policing looks different, but it doesn’t mean it’s without bias, racism, incorrect and incomplete thinking,” said Executive Director of the nonprofit Bridge the Divide, Erica Turner. “We hear people that say ‘I’m not going to drive into Mequon because I every time I get there I get stopped.'”
Cedarburg Police Capt. Michael McNerney says the sit down is a unique opportunity for authentic question-and-answer.
“I think the officers are a little upset that we got painted with a broad brush, that we’re all bad and racist, when that’s not the case,” he said.
“I really hope that it is just one more step on this journey,” said Turner. “If anti-racism is the goal…I hope that this means they see the value of interacting with the community even when the community isn’t just applauding all of their work.”