It was announced on November 17 that the controversial Wauwatosa Police officer Joseph Mensah will resign from the department, as part of a separation agreement effective November 30.
Mensah has been involved in three fatal shootings in five years. The most recent shooting took place in February when he killed 17-year-old Alvin Cole during a chase outside Mayfair Mall. The Milwaukee County District Attorney decided on October 7 not to charge Mensah. That decision sparked several nights of protests in the area.
“Now is the time for all of us to come together and heal. We’ve made substantial progress during 2020, and in the coming year we’ll continue to focus on positive change for our community. As before, I’m committed to working with the Common Council, the city’s Equity and Inclusion Commission, and members of the public to make that happen,” said Wauwatosa Mayor Dennis McBride in a press release.
Mensah was suspended by the city’s Police and Fire Commission in July. The unanimous vote by five commissioners came as part administrative charges filed against Mensah by the family of Jay Anderson, one of three people that he fatally shot. In the weeks since, family members of other victims and their attorneys, along with thousands of local residents, have repeatedly called for him to be fired.
The city said that the next step in the process would be a meeting by the Wauwatosa Committee of the Whole on December 15. At that time they would begin a three-month discussion on the equity focus of the next strategic plan. According to a statement, the city has already enacted the following:
- Training for city employees on implicit bias, Milwaukee’s history and racial disparities, and for supervisors on ways to ensure a more equitable workplace, as well as stopping implicit biases from impacting hiring decisions.
- Adopting the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC)’s pledge to “Make Milwaukee a Region of Choice.” As part of this pledge, the city is to increase diverse management by 25% and diverse employment by 15% by 2025. Wauwatosa was the first municipality to join this effort.
- Banning chokeholds and carotid restraints on August 4, 2020.
- Posting police policies on the city’s website to enhance transparency.
- Creating an online complaint and commendation form for members of the public to submit comment about the Police Department without reporting to the Police Department building to do so.
- Purchasing body-worn cameras for the Wauwatosa Police Department.
- Hosting three community conversations in partnership with the Zeidler Group to hear from community stakeholders about how to build greater equity in Wauwatosa.
- Dedicating a focus area to the next Wauwatosa strategic plan about equity.
The agreement was reached between the City of Wauwatosa, Wauwatosa Peace Officer’s Association, and Mensah. Neither Mayor McBride or other city officials revealed any additional details of the agreement beyond Mensah’s separation date.
Because Mensah will no longer be an employee of the city, Wauwatosa officials will meet soon to dismiss the pending charges against him.