The Electric Commentary

Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Racist Police Chief to Cost Milwaukee Around $5,000,000

If there is one word that describes the tenure of Art Jones as Milwaukee's Chief of Police, it is "race-based." (OK, one hyphenated word.) Rarely is a man so consumed by concerns of race and race relations. I lived in Milwaukee during the conclusion of Jones' tenure, and he was truly a wretched chief. The police force was in constant disarray, units were reassigned and disbanded haphazardly and without any clear plan or explanation. The gang unit was disbanded, and, shockingly, gang violence increased. While every major metro area in the country saw crime fall dramatically, Milwaukee basically held steady.

Now Jones' racist actions are going to cost the city big-time. 17 officers filed suit against Jones and the city claiming that they were the victims of discrimination with regard to promotions. They easily won their case, and will probably win an average of $300,000 each for back pay. (I suspect that the city will be on the hook for legal fees as well).

This is somewhat ironic, as Jones rose to prominence through a similar suit in 1974:

As a young officer, Jones was part of a 1974 complaint and a follow-up lawsuit that led to court orders to improve the hiring and promotion of minority officers. As the city's first permanent African-American chief, Jones engaged in discrimination himself, the jury found.

and predictably filed a discrimination suit against the city when he was fired.

What is now obvious is that Jones was not fired because he was black, but his race certainly did have something to do with it. Jones may very well have been a victim way back when he filed his first discrimination suit, and perhaps some good came of it, but his obsession with his own race, and his constant one-man conquest to right all racial wrongs by promoting minority officers over and over, even when they were not qualified, will do more to undermine his cause than to promote it.

He has destroyed the credibility of those that he promoted, which is a shame. Most of those officers, if they were not truly qualified at the time, may have been qualified after a few years, but Jones has destroyed them. The community, and the rest of the force will almost certainly look down on them, even though they were simply taking advantage of what was presented to them. Racial tension in the department will almost certainly increase. The city, already strapped for cash, will be hit very hard by this. It is simply a disaster.

And Jones still doesn't get it:

"I believe that it is a blow to diversification, and I think that's very important to a municipal police department, especially here in Milwaukee," he said.

Jones also defended his record, saying that his promotions included four white females, three black females, two black males, two Hispanic males and one male Pacific Islander with an "understanding" that more than half his 41 promotions to captain were white men.

He's still looking at skin color before qualification

Thankfully, this is now all but over, and the Milwaukee Police Department can hopefully move on to serious business, like, you know, catching criminals and stuff.

One last thing. I was immediately curious about the racial make up of the jury, but the Journal-Sentinel only gives us this:

The eight-person jury - three white men and five women - (emphasis added) took slightly more than a day deliberating before they brought back the verdict, which U.S. District Judge Thomas Curran read while the hastily assembled group of almost all the plaintiffs sat, tight-lipped, in chairs ringing the small courtroom where they had waited out the trial.

Were the women also white? If so, this is an odd way of wording the sentence. If not, isn't it worth mentioning the racial breakdown of the women. Either way, it is unclear.

I guess I'll never know.


I actually e-mailed the author of the article, Derrick Nunnally, and he responded. Basically, the Journal was also unaware of the racial breakdown of the female jurors. It is clear that there were at least three white female jurors, one black female juror, and one of ambiguous ethnicity. The documents that definitively list the ethnicities of the jurors is still being withheld by the court, which is why the article is ambiguous as to that point. Mr. Nunnally also stated that they included the ethnicity of the males because 1. It was clear that they were white, and 2. White males were the plaintiffs in the case.

Thanks to Derrick Nunnally for his promptness, candor, and clarity in answering my question.


  • Holy crap Noonan you have way too much time on your hands, are you going to opening day? Tk

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 5:22 PM  

  • Yes I am. I'll be getting into Tosa on Sunday.

    By Blogger PaulNoonan, at 4:51 PM  

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