As I wrap up my almost 37 year law enforcement career, I want to share some insight I have gained over the years.
The Kenosha Police Department is committed to constant improvement. We understand the importance of assessment and refinement; however, we also understand that for some we can never be seen as doing enough. This is an unfortunate reality. Below I will share some of what has been done.
Just in the last year, I had our Use of Force policy updated and reviewed. The policy meets or exceeds national criteria and the policy easily passed scrutiny. I reviewed and broadened an outdated Racial Profiling policy. The new Anti-Bias policy is now more encompassing and includes race, religion, LGBTQ+, etc. I enacted a Hate Crimes Investigation policy to guide staff in cases where a person is selected as a victim because of the offender’s bias. I directed that all staff receive bias free policing training and my senior management team and I were the first to receive the training.
We are taking specific and identifiable steps to make sure we are on the correct path and that we continue to evolve and refine our skill sets. We are increasing safety efforts while at the same time attempting to increase the perception of police legitimacy. We are forming new relationships and strengthening old ones.
Our focus is not just on community relations, it is also on violence reduction. The fewer the instances of violence on our streets and in our homes the lesser the chances an officer is greeted with violence and must react. We work with many partners at addressing violence, it may be seen as the job of the police; however, it is the responsibility of all. Law enforcement cannot tackle violence alone; there must be an effort from the public to stop the violence. Those who resort to violence must stop and find another way. Those who teach that violence is acceptable must stop. Clergy, parents, teachers, friends, politicians, activists…all must be part of the solution.
We must come together to address all of the underlying issues that contribute to violence. We must combine our efforts and we must become undivided. We must collectively work toward better ways and better days.
Society as a whole must own our situation. We must combat poverty, mental illness, drug dependency, violence, bigotry and hate. One person alone cannot address the issues; we must be committed to work together. We must refuse to hate, we must refuse to teach hate and we must refuse to accept hate as “okay” or justified. We must face down real and perceived threats and we must call out the pretenders. Actual effort and concrete commitment is required. We must guard against group-think and mob action and we must return to individual responsibility.
We in the law enforcement profession would be naïve to believe there is no room for improvement. We as a community, as a state, and as a nation must do better as well, not just the police, not just our youth…all of us.
Chief Daniel Miskinis