Green Bay Professional Police Association
Representing the brave men and women serving and protecting "Titletown, USA"
September 21, 2017
The Green Bay Professional Police Association (GBPPA) represents the brave men and women who serve and protect, “Titletown, USA.” The police administration has released the results of an internal investigation regarding a TASER deployment that occurred during a high-risk traffic stop on February, 26, 2017 on Admiral Court. The high-risk stop took place in a high crime area known for drug activity and upon seeing emergency red and blue police lights behind it, the vehicle drove away. It was also believed at the time, that the vehicle had struck a person who was seen walking in front of it, just before the officer made contact. This deliberate act of driving away increased the perception of the threat or potential harm to others, including the officers. Three of the four occupants of the vehicle complied with officer’s orders and one of them confirmed the observations related to possibly being hit. It was later discovered that she had indeed fallen in front of the vehicle, which confirmed the officer’s initial perception. A fourth subject, a male, didn’t comply with police, and displayed behavior indicative of a threat of bodily harm to officers and/or others, and was safely taken into custody after being exposed to a TASER deployment. The use of a TASER to control a person demonstrating violence or a threat of violence is consistent with Green Bay Policy and Procedure. The administration, however, has concluded that the use of a TASER to safely control a potentially violent threat wasn’t objectively reasonable. We disagree.
When a use of force incident is analyzed, it must be done through the lens of “objective reasonableness,” free of 20/20 hindsight bias, which is consistent with the landmark U.S. Supreme Court case of Graham v. Connor (1989). The proliferation of video cameras has helped hold police accountable and has increased scrutiny to unprecedented levels. We have no objection to being held accountable. We do object to being unfairly judged through the lens of a camera that merely records an action and doesn’t provide accurate insight into the officer’s perception at the time. For example, when viewing the Admiral Court camera footage, if the viewer from the comfort of their own home concludes, “He was merely pulling up his pants” (and not reaching for or adjusting a concealed weapon), this completely ignores an officer’s reasonable perception of the event at the time. An officer’s perception is based upon many factors, including their training, experience, and fact situation (accounting for the severity of the crime, whether the suspect poses an immediate threat to the safety of officer or others, and whether the suspect is actively resisting). It is the fact situation that we must focus on when determining if an officer’s actions, at the time, were objectively reasonable.
The facts of this case were examined by four highly regarded law enforcement trainers; two of them who are Subject Matter Experts (SMEs) with nationwide training and teaching experience. Two of the reviewers were selected from the GBPPA and two are lieutenants from police administration. All four reviewers concluded that based upon State of Wisconsin Department of Justice Standards and also accounting for human performance factors that impact officer perception, the TASER deployments in this case were objectively reasonable. The GBPPA has also been made aware of a State of Wisconsin Department of Criminal Investigation (DCI) report that evaluated, either whole or in part, the TASER deployments in this case. The GBPPA has made an open records request for the DCI report and will report on the findings in a separate press release. The facts analyzed by the use of force trainers and experts speak for themselves and are outlined in their reports.
You may also hear that there were discrepancies in the written accounts of this incident. It’s important to note that the officers involved in this incident didn’t view their dash cam video footage before writing their reports (which policy allows them to do). The discrepancies that do exist are minor and can be attributed to errors in human memory. For example, one officer reports that he heard the man yell, “Shoot me” while he was walking backwards towards the officers. The video footage confirms the comment, “…shoot me” (or something rather similar), but it occurred during the arrest scenario. This discrepancy is recalled out of order, which isn’t necessarily uncommon when recollecting stressful events. There are no allegations in this incident that the officers intentionally falsified reports.
We find it troubling that in light of all the facts in this case, including expert opinions (two from the departments own administration), that Chief Smith still believes that the TASER deployments in this incident were unreasonable. When viewing the video footage in its entirety, the actions made by the vehicle, such as driving away from a marked squad with emergency lights activated in a known high crime area; and the actions of the threat, such as disobeying verbal commands, extending his middle fingers at police officers, staring at officers or target glancing to note officers locations, reaching towards his waistband where weapons are often concealed in direct contradiction to officers’ lawful commands, failing to obey verbal commands, and challenging officers to come get him out of the vehicle; taken collectively would lead a reasonable police officer to believe that violence or the threat of violence was imminent. The application of a TASER is a low level of force, which reduces the propensity of injury to the threat and officers. The TASER, compared to other physical alternatives, was a lesser amount and application of reasonable force, necessary to safely control the threat. GBPPA members who have also been exposed to a TASER can attest to its effects, which result in little to no residual harm, while effectively controlling a threat.
The GBPPA supports the officers involved in this incident and believe that they made reasonable decisions under the stress and potential risks that they faced during this incident.
~ Green Bay Professional Police Association
January 9, 2016
The GBPPA looks forward to working with our new Police Chief - Andrew Smith. The GBPPA believes that Chief Smith will bring a sought after new perspective to the GBPD and help improve the wages, hours, and working conditions for the brave men and women that serve Titletown, USA. The GBPD used to be the premier agency in Northeast Wisconsin. Unfortunately, that is no longer the case and less candidates then ever before desire to work for the GBPD. Among comparables, officers of the GBPD are near the bottom in pay and take the most significant risk in the region. Furthermore, it was recently discovered that a starting custodian at the City of Green Bay makes more than a starting police officer. Clearly, the risks that a police officer takes far outweighs the risks that a custodian takes and the city further demonstrates it's lack of appreciation and recognition for the selfless service that officers give each day, often at great personal risk.
Starting Wage City of Green Bay Custodian - $22.33 an hour
Starting Wage City of Green Bay Police Officer - $22.24 an hour
Granted, it's only a nine cent per hour difference, but for the wages to even be that close is a testament to how the city perceives the value of police work.
It's our hope that Chief Smith can help demontrate for city leaders that the value of police work is worth much more and help restore the pride of being a Green Bay Police Officer.
February 15, 2015
The Green Bay Professional Police Association (GBPPA) represents the brave men and women who serve and protect, “Titletown, USA.” Recently, the mayor took credit for reducing crime in 2014 in our city by 13%. The Uniform Crime Reports (UCR’s) support the mayor’s claim. Sadly, the mayor has not credited your police officers with the dedicated, brave, and committed service that helped make Green Bay a safer city. Instead, it has become one of his political slogans.
In 2014, Green Bay Police Officers responded to 75,842 calls for service. Comparably, Brown County Sheriff’s Deputies responded to 59,095 calls for service, DePere Police Officers responded to 18,199 calls for service, and Ashwaubenon Public Safety Officers responded to 18,083 calls for service. It is expected that call volume will be higher in Green Bay, the third largest Wisconsin city. The same UCR reports also demonstrate that Green Bay Police Officers, compared to their counterparts, face increased risk of violent crime to themselves and the citizen’s they protect. Green Bay Police Officers selflessly do this while being the lowest paid officers in the county.
Although the city mission statement, supported by the mayor, claims a focus on enhancing the quality of life for city employees, it is contrary to the truth. Over the past five years Green Bay Police Officers have experienced reduced take home pay, reduced benefits, and a reduced quality of life. The Green Bay Police Department used to be a premier place to work with 900 to 1000 applicants vying for the privilege to serve and protect. In 2014, less than 200 applicants signed up to take the patrol officer examination and less than 70 showed up for the test. Not only are less people interested in working for the Green Bay Police Department, but less officers today make working for the police department a career and leave to work in other communities where there is less risk to their personal safety and the pay and benefits are better.
The GBPPA is not supporting or endorsing any candidate for mayor. Whoever is elected as Green Bay’s next mayor, it is our hope that they will be focused on increasing the pay and benefits of those who serve and protect, “Titletown, USA.” Maybe the Green Bay Police Department can return to being the premier police agency where brave men and women want to work.
***News Release Update***
February 15, 2015
In response to our original billboard (above), Mayor Schmitt has changed his message, now thanking the "brave men and women of the GBPD" for the lowest crime rate in over a decade. The GBPPA hopes that this sudden change is sincere. After all, supporting the brave men and women of the GBPD is more than just a billboard slogan. In response to Mayor Schmitt's new billboard, we have changed ours as well.
The Press-Gazette news article can be viewed at: http://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/politics/elections/2015/02/16/schmitt-police-union-spar-crime-drop/23527297/