RACINE, Wisc., (SPECTRUM NEWS) -- Wisconsin’s fifth-largest city is asking its residents what changes they want to see from their police department.
Friday, Racine hosted the second of three “Police Reform Community Conversations” via Zoom. Mayor Cory Mason (D) addressed the large virtual room of about 70 attendees before participants broke into small discussion groups for a 90-minute session.
Payne & Frazier Consultants, a Racine-based firm, had moderators ask a series of questions and allowed participants two minutes to answer each. One group was asked early on which issue or area Racine P.D. should focus on when it comes to police reform. James Wells says that he wants the department to enforce its body camera policy, which is supposed to be mandatory.
“It should not be optional,” Wells says. “If we get pulled over and we have to wear a seatbelt and we get a ticket for that, why do they not have to wear their body cameras?”
One participant who asked to remain anonymous is a public defender in another county. That person says in their experience, over-policing certain areas fosters antagonistic relationships.
“If there’s one thing that can be done tomorrow, it’s changing those policing policies on how you’re policing certain neighborhoods and what you’re ticketing for, what you’re stopping for and who you’re doing it to,” they say.
A few people were skeptical about the city’s willingness to confront policing issues, but the mayor says change is necessary, and that Friday’s forum is a step forward.
“This is really important work,” Mason says. “I think together we will come out of this with a stronger, more united city.”
The final community conversation will take place Monday from 10 a.m. to noon.