Dane County, Wisconsin (TFC)— Recently, Wisconsin’s Dane County Sheriff’s (DCS) Office responded to open records requests filed by The Fifth Column. These pertained to DCS’s Standing Rock deployment, which concluded in October 2016. From October 9th-16th 2016, Dane County sent…
The drug war’s casualties reach far beyond bloated penitentiary yards, fractured rehab facilities, and its own endless perpetuation. America’s opioid crisis, and its scale, is straining police, the policed, and the decades old rhetoric between them.
Heroin use and overdose in particular is climbing, indiscriminately rocking towns with barbaric fervor. Milwaukee Wisconsin is no stranger, nor its numerous nearby suburbs–like Wauwatosa. Perhaps now is the time for law enforcement to consider drug enforcement nuances cropping up elsewhere in the country.
“888 bodies and counting”, a morbid but fitting title to a recent report by Milwaukee’s alderman’s office. In 14 pages, the document presents detailed analysis of a overdose plague striking the city. “Milwaukee county alone has seen a 495% increase in heroin related deaths between 2005-2015”, it reads. As a point of perspective, Milwaukee’s opioid deaths, heroin and others, exceed deaths by car accidents and homicide.
In 2014, a Pew Research Center study revealed something perhaps viewed as impossible 10 years ago. Two-thirds of Americans felt that people shouldn’t be prosecuted for possession of heroin and cocaine. That trend has only spread, with even some police departments proposing radical new drug reforms. Seattle just raised the bar, however, and proposes safe spaces for addicts to use, and even get help.
City officials across the country are finding “radical” ideas like safe spaces more mainstream. Simply put, the body count of America’s opioid epidemic is ungodly staggering. In Gloucester, Massachusetts for example, police experimented with not sending addicts to jail. Instead, addicts are offered option to seek rehabilitation through it’s Angel Program.
Calm seems to follow each day break here in Milwaukee, the night’s chaos passing with it. That calm is deceptive, insidiously distracting from the night’s atmosphere. A mass catharsis grips the Northside nightly, and has wrought an ominous government presence. It is that presence which is perhaps most unnerving.
Funny how it sometimes takes military units being deployed for people to pay attention to a certain place. As a lifelong Milwaukee resident, I must confess a kind of angst having the entire world’s attention on us. Milwaukee has been rated one of the most segregated American cities, the fourth poorest and yet, only now the world is watching. As if the blaze’s violent brilliance were a beacon, drawing in all manner of onlookers.
Most are aware of the catalyst– that being yet another police shooting. That phrase is beginning to carry it’s own kind of morbid weight it seems,”yet another”. After Milwaukee officers pulled over a car, the occupants ran and police pursued. The runner, 23 year old Sylville K. Smith, allegedly carried a gun as he ran from officers who eventually fired. Police released few initial details, but did offer information on the shooting officer.
If you have a concern about any form over government overreach, the movement for police accountability is your fight. Even if you’ve never had a run in with law enforcement, it’s your fight. If you are concerned about the government removing your right to homeschool your children, it’s your fight. If you’re worried about forced vaccinations, it’s your fight. If you’re fighting for an end to prohibition, it’s your fight. If you want to keep your firearms, it’s your fight. If you want to aid the homeless or alleviate poverty, it’s your fight. If you want to stand against imminent domain, it’s your fight. It doesn’t matter what form of government overreach you want to end, it’s your fight.
It may seem difficult to connect some of these to the movement for police reform. All of these, indeed every single government regulation is enforced by the barrel of a gun. No matter how trivial the law, an infraction places you at the wrong of end of a cop’s gun. Even the act of feeding the homeless can in some areas put you seconds from death. When the police arrive and the person feeding the homeless resists having his rights violated, he will be shot. If he simply moves to quickly to pack up his kitchen utensils and the officer fears for his life because of the fork or knife, he will be shot.
Isn’t it wonderful when police knock on your door asking what your activism plans for the Republican National Convention are? That’s exactly what’s happening in Cleveland, where officers are going door-to-door probing activists and organizers. Such revelations beg questions on the use of police for surveillance of legal political activities especially in 2016’s election.
With Cleveland Ohio expecting an estimated 50,000 visitors for the Republican National Convention (RNC), preparations surely are needed. Many community organizers, however, shuttered after sleeping bags and soapboxes were banned at 2016’s RNC. Interestingly, Intercept reports, officials didn’t ban firearms, despite a recent attempt on Donald Trump’s life. Trump rallies, in particular, are known for their volatile nature, and acts of exclusion and violence are regular. RNC’s bans don’t account for these elements of the convention’s population.
The 2008 election was notable for many things, particularly for it’s collection of candidates. While America’s attention beamed on the spectacle, as it turns out, foreign intelligence agency’s occupied the background. According to a recently declassified document, 2008 attracted unprecedented levels of foreign covert interest. One must wonder, if they were interested eight years ago, what’s keeping them from 2016’s political time bomb?
Painstaking briefings are a reality of any incoming presidential administration, and Obama’s was no different. During their presentation, the intelligence community reputedly issued an ominous warning to all incoming personnel–foreign intelligence agents were, and probably still were, watching them.
Entitled “Unlocking The Secrets: How To Use The Intelligence Community”, the newly disclosed document details these operations’ nature. Released by the office of the director of national intelligence, it spoke of foreign spying in 2008’s election “like no other.”
From 2004-2011, the Wauwatosa Police Department released yearly annual reports on its activities. The protocol wasn’t unusual, police normally provide some form of publicly available documentation. Of course, they don’t outline everything there is to know about a department, they’re simply transparent overviews.
In 2012, unlike other departments, Wauwatosa’s data never arrived to the city’s page. Around that time, the department cited challenges associated with a new report redaction policy it was forced to adopt. The policy, referenced in several Wauwatosa Now pieces, was enacted after a supreme court ruling on privacy rights.
A year later, Wauwatosa PD Captain Tim Sharpee said WPD was unable to do the redactions electronically. “So a clerk has to print out that report (and) redact all that information”, he said, alluding to the department’s lack of resources. In 2013, 10-13% of a department sworn for 94 officers left within a four month period. For a time, WPD claimed it lacked the manpower to process reports with the tedious methods available to them. It was assumed, but not entirely verified, that the annual’s were discontinued due to the same phenomenon that affected more regular reports.