BY: Mark A. Sikora,
In the early morning hours of the Wisconsin senate budget hearings, Milwaukee Democrat Spencer Coggs inserted a provision into the budget changing State Statute 62.50. This statute outlines the manner in which the Chief of Police of the City of Milwaukee may discipline our members under State Law.
Prior to July 1, 2009, the Chief of Police could terminate members for rule violations, but their pay would continue during the appeal process. But thanks to Senator Coggs, our members shall not receive pay or benefits if terminated for any reason.
Inserted next is a copy of the letter the MPA hand delivered to all our Legislators and also a copy of the MPA’s press release on the secret budget hearings:
Dated June 22, 2009
I am writing today regarding the proposed change to Section 62.50, Wis. Stats. that Senator Coggs inserted into the Senate version of the state budget. This change affects the pay for Milwaukee Police Officers who are discharged for a department rule violation.
Senator Coggs would have you believe that this change is needed when in fact it is not. On Wednesday, March 19, 2008, Governor Doyle signed in law Act 114 which amended 62.50 to stop the pay for City of Milwaukee Police Officers who are discharged as a result of being charged with a crime. This change was unanimously passed by both the Assembly and Senate. Senator Coggs stood behind the Governor smiling, along with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Common Council President Willie Hines and other legislators, as the act was being signed.
Act 114 was the result of over three years of debate in Madison and although it unfairly targeted only City of Milwaukee Police Officers and removed the basic protections that every other law enforcement officer in the state of Wisconsin has, it achieved what it was meant to do and that was to stop the pay for City of Milwaukee Police Officers who were charged with a crime before they even had their due process hearing.
Currently there is one discharged City of Milwaukee Police Officer awaiting a hearing before the Fire & Police Commission, and he is in an unpaid status.
The change that is being sought is an unnecessary change that has not been requested by the City of Milwaukee. This change would discriminate against all City of Milwaukee Police Officers simply because of the community in which he/she works-as the pay for every other Wisconsin Law Enforcement Officer, (including Milwaukee County Sheriff Deputies and suburban officers) continues until his/her discharge is heard before an Independent Board of Review. This change, and the cowardly manner in which it is being sought, must be for no other reason but a personal agenda which is yet to be determined.
The latest shooting of two Milwaukee Police Officers, the sixth in the last four years, demonstrates the dangers that City of Milwaukee Police Officers face each and every day. Removing this basic protection for the mistake of violating a Department rule is an appalling attack from the part of our community that should be standing alongside law enforcement and not with the part or our community that would harm our officers.
I am asking each Legislator who voted for Act 114 to denounce this current change and eliminate it from the State Budget. Let it stand alone as Act 114 did so that each police officer in the City of Milwaukee and the State of Wisconsin can judge for themselves which Legislator truly is pro law enforcement and not just for the times that they pose alongside law enforcement for their election holy pictures.
Press Release Dated June 24, 2009
Senator Coggs needs to stop misleading the media, as well his fellow legislators and the community, on the issue of pay for City of Milwaukee Police Officers.
Currently, Milwaukee Police Officers get paid suspension pending an appeal from discipline ONLY when the discipline exceeds 5 days in duration , and no criminal charges are pending against the officer for the situation that led to the discipline. Sec.62.50(13) and (18), Stats.
However, Senator Coggs wants to change that, and remove any and all paid suspension for Milwaukee Police Officers who the Chief recommends for discharge regardless of the basis for that recommendation (i.e., simply an unproven rule violation).
Senator Coggs’ assertion that his “provision in the budget would bring the rules governing the Milwaukee Police on this issue in alignment with every other law enforcement agency in the state of Wisconsin” is simply untrue. Either he does not understand the law he seeks to change, or he is intentionally misrepresenting the facts.
The actual law affecting all law enforcement officers in Wisconsin (other than Milwaukee) is as follows:
PAID SUSPENSION FOR ALL POLICE OFFICERS IN WISCONSIN (NOT MILWAUKEE)
62.13. POLICE AND FIRE DEPARTMENTS
(5) Disciplinary actions against subordinates. (a) A subordinate may suspended as
hereinafter provided as a penalty. The subordinate may also be suspended by the
commission pending the disposition of charges filed against the subordinate…
(h) No person shall be deprived of compensation while suspended pending disposition
PAID SUSPENSION FOR ALL DEPUTY SHERIFFS IN WISCONSIN
59.26. SHERIFF; UNDERSHERIFF; DEPUTIES
(9) (a) A deputy sheriff in any county may not be suspended or dismissed under sub.(8) or
s. 59.52(8) or 63.10 without pay or benefits, for any action taken that is within the scope of the
deputy’s employment, until the matter that is the subject of the suspension or dismissal is dis-
posed of by the grievance committee or civil service commission or the time for appeal of that
matter passes without an appeal being made.
The Milwaukee Police Association simply asks that each legislator and citizen judge this issue based upon the facts, as opposed to unsubstantiated rhetoric.
City of Milwaukee aldermen have submitted a letter to Senator Coggs explaining that his provision was neither requested, nor needed by the City of Milwaukee, as the changes that were implemented last session have had the desired effect. They further asked him to remove his provision from the state budget.
If Senator Coggs’ provision was neither requested nor needed by the City of Milwaukee, one must then ask why he has inserted that provision into the budget, if not for a “personal agenda.”
Senator Coggs, thank you very much for giving the City the ability to starve us out of our appeal. Your ability to sneak this provision into the budget process, and then have the Governor sign it, truly qualifies you to be the next Lt. Governor. I wish you all the luck in the world as the farther you get away from Milwaukee, the better off and safer we all will be.