The Milwaukee Common Council approved a resolution on Tuesday “directing that Police Department purchases of crowd-response, crowd-control, military-grade and militaristic equipment be approved by the Common Council.”

“This legislation was birthed out of community conversations and a desire for the public to know more about militaristic equipment and ensure greater oversight of the procurement process,” said Alderwoman Coggs, who introduced the resolution, in a press release. “This is one small effort we can enact to provide more transparency with the public. I want to thank my colleagues for supporting this resolution and I want to thank those who continue to make their voices heard.”

Here’s the full text of the resolution:

Title
Substitute resolution directing that Police Department purchases of crowd-response, crowd-control, military-grade and militaristic equipment be approved by the Common Council.

Analysis
This resolution requires that Police Department purchases of crowd-response, crowd-control, military-grade and militaristic equipment be approved by the Common Council.

Military-grade equipment is defined as any weapon or equipment typically employed by military entities in the course of armed conflict or for protection during armed threat, including, but not limited to:

Armored personnel carriers
Flashbang grenades
Grenade launchers
Arms to fire rubber or plastic bullets
Rubber or plastic bullets
Tear gas
Heavy body armor
Ballistic/riot shields or helmets
Batons
Assault or sniper rifles
Submachine guns
Long range acoustic devices (sound cannons)
Heavy entry tools
Advanced night vision optics

Excluded from this resolution is equipment purchased, requisitioned or otherwise procured for daily and routine use by a police officer in the course of executing an officer’s normally assigned duties.

Body
Whereas, The deployment of crowd-response, crowd-control, military-grade and militaristic equipment by police departments in response to peaceful gatherings to protest social and racial injustices is often seen as an overreaction by those gathering and can create a climate of mistrust and animosity; and

Whereas, The mere knowledge that the police have crowd-response, crowd-control, military-grade and militaristic equipment in reserve ready to quickly deploy can similarly create an atmosphere of tension and foreboding among those gathered; and

Whereas, The deployment, or the mere presence in reserve, of crowd-control, military-grade and militaristic equipment can incite the violent clashes between police and protesters this equipment is intended to prevent or quell; now, therefore, be it

Resolved, By the Common Council of Milwaukee, that the Police Department shall obtain approval by resolution from the Common Council before seeking to purchase, requisition or otherwise procure military-grade equipment from the city purchasing director using budgeted funds; and, be it

Further Resolved, Military-grade equipment subject to this resolution shall be any weapon or equipment typically employed by military entities in the course of armed conflict or for protection during armed threat, including, but not limited to:

Armored personnel carriers
Flashbang grenades
Grenade launchers
Arms to fire rubber or plastic bullets
Rubber or plastic bullets
Tear gas
Heavy body armor
Ballistic/riot shields or helmets
Batons
Assault or sniper rifles
Submachine guns
Long range acoustic devices (sound cannons)
Heavy entry tools
Advanced night vision optics

and, be it

Further Resolved. That equipment purchased, requisitioned or otherwise procured for daily and routine use by a police officer in the course of executing an officer’s normally assigned duties shall not be subject to this resolution; and, be it

Further Resolved, That when the Common Council delegates the authority by resolution to the Police Department or another department to expend special funds, the Police Department must obtain approval by resolution from the Common Council before it may seek to purchase, requisition or otherwise procure military-grade equipment using those funds.

During a discussion of the resolution back in June, Assistant Chief Michael Brunson pushed back at the idea of asking for Common Council approval.

“These vehicles, whether you like it or not, assist us in preventing our personnel from being injured by citizens in our city that want to do them harm,” Brunson said. “These vehicles, whether you like it or not, assist us in preventing our personnel from being injured by citizens in our city that want to do them harm. We’re about protecting our personnel. I know that the optics don’t look good at times, but we are about protecting our personnel. We don’t want to lose or see our personnel injured.”

Here’s a press release for today’s resolution:

Resolution requiring Council approval for purchasing of crowd control and militaristic equipment approved today

During today’s (Tuesday, July 7) meeting of the Common Council, file #200274, a resolution directing that Police Department purchases of crowd-response, crowd-control, military-grade and militaristic equipment be approved by the Common Council, was adopted by the full Council. The item was introduced by Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs and is co-sponsored by Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, Alderman Nik Kovac, Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II and Alderman José G. Pérez.

“This legislation was birthed out of community conversations and a desire for the public to know more about militaristic equipment and ensure greater oversight of the procurement process,” said Alderwoman Coggs.

The resolution states that the Police Department shall obtain approval by resolution from the Common Council before seeking to purchase, requisition or otherwise procure military-grade equipment from the city purchasing director using budgeted funds. Additionally, the Police Department must obtain approval by resolution from the Common Council before it may seek to purchase, requisition or otherwise procure military-grade equipment using special funds.

Military-grade equipment subject to this resolution is defined as any weapon or equipment typically employed by military entities in the course of armed conflict or for protection during an armed threat. Equipment intended for daily and routine use by a police officer in the course of executing normally assigned duties is not subject to this resolution.

“This is one small effort we can enact to provide more transparency with the public,” said Alderwoman Coggs. “I want to thank my colleagues for supporting this resolution and I want to thank those who continue to make their voices heard.”

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Matt Wild weighs between 140 and 145 pounds. He lives on Milwaukee's east side.

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