The police department of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is set to pay out a whopping $3.4 million following a lawsuit accusing its officers of unfairly targeting black and Latino civilians with its stop-and-frisk policy.
The lawsuit was initially filed last year by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of about half a dozen residents who claimed they were stopped at least once since 2010, The Root reports.
The organization ultimately found that the department had stopped more than 350,000 drivers and pedestrians between 2010 and 2017 without any explanation of probable cause.
The settlement was approved last Tuesday with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett signing off on the agreement on Friday.
“Ultimately we hope that these type of situations cease and desist,” said Alderman Khalif Rainey.
Along with the pay out, the settlement requires additional training for cops on stop and searches, along with a reform of the department’s stop-and-frisk procedures, according to The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“For the last decade, tens of thousands of Black and Latino Milwaukeeans have been interrupted in their daily lives by police stopping them without reasonable suspicion of criminal activity as required by the Constitution,” the ACLU of Wisconsin said in a news release on Friday.
The group revealed in its analysis that the city’s black residents were detained for traffic violations or pedestrian stops more than six times the rate of their white peers.
Another condition of the settlement agreement requires the department to detail every single time they stop and search someone and explain the reason. Furthermore, officers must collect demographic information for the stops.
As far as the money is concerned, $1.5 million of it will go to an independent consultant to keep an eye on the department’s compliance with the other terms of the agreement. The other $1.9 million will be split across attorney’s fees and the residents who were represented by the ACLU.
This victory symbolizes a new leaf being turned over in America where we begin to see more people in positions of power and authority being held accountable by the public, particularly law enforcement. Thanks to groups like the ACLU, social activists, and smartphone cameras that capture abusive encounters, gone are the days when corrupt departments could freely terrorize communities of color without consequence.
Banner/Thumbnail Photo Credit: Flickr, Cliff