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Slow Response To Union's Information Request Costs Milwaukee $13K
Updated On: Sep 13, 2015

Slow response to police union records request to cost city $13,000

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Slow response to police union records request to cost city $13,000

Milwaukee is on the hook for $13,000 because the Fire and Police Commission failed to respond in a timely manner to a police union open records request concerning the Dontre Hamilton shooting, according to the city attorney's office.

"This is an outrageous waste of money," Ald. Bob Bauman said Thursday after reviewing a letter to the Common Council from City Attorney Grant Langley and Assistant City Attorney Peter Block.

"The Fire and Police Commission operates in complete obscurity without accountability to anyone," he said.

According to the letter, dated Wednesday, the Milwaukee Police Association brought a "writ of mandamus" — a petition that asks a government official to fulfill his or her official duty — alleging the Fire and Police Commission failed to produce records pertaining to the April 2014 police shooting of Hamilton in Red Arrow Park.

The union contended that the records were already public and the commission's reasons for not releasing them were capricious.

After the writ had been filed, the commission concluded it neglected to respond properly to the request.

Under Wisconsin law, if a writ of mandamus is filed under the open records law because of a denial or delay in responding to the records request, the custodian of the records must pay attorney fees and costs even if the records are later produced.

The union sought $20,000 for fees, costs and punitive damages. The union agreed to settle for $13,000.

The Judiciary and Legislative Committee will review the settlement and make a recommendation to the full Common Council.

© 2015, Journal Sentinel Inc. All rights reserved.

About Crocker Stephenson
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Crocker Stephenson covers urban affairs and city government. He has won many regional and national awards for his stories concerning public health, child welfare, poverty, urban life and welfare reform.

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