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Flynn outlines MPD procedure changes following Derek Williams' death

Annie Scholz

Flynn outlines MPD procedure changes following Derek Williams' death

CREATED Oct. 18, 2012 - UPDATED: Oct. 18, 2012

MILWAUKEE- Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn is outlining changes in the police department following the death of a suspect in police custody last year.

"The cost of error clearly is too high," said Flynn to the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission when addressing the Derek Williams case Thursday night.  Williams died in police custody, and the case has a community calling for change.

The Milwaukee Police Department now requires an officer to call for medical help as soon as a suspect asks for it, no questions asked.

"We'll probably have a fair number of ambulances being summoned to the backseat of police cars, but it's worth it because quite literally if it saves a life we have to make that investment," says Flynn.

There's also a critical incident review board that looks at what may have gone wrong in a case and what needs to be done to fix it.  Training has changed to include the possibility of respiratory distress or a pre-existing condition -- both of which Williams had.

"They could have been having all kinds of medical conditions, I'm not sure if you can train for all of those.  It would just appear to be somewhat obvious if someone is complaining they can't breathe, that emergency medical help would be requested immediately," argues Jonathan Safran, a lawyer who is representing Williams' children.

The chief says there's no changing what happened in the Williams case, but hopes these new measures could change what happens next time.

"We're constantly going to have to adjust and evaluate our training and our protocols and our procedures because we are a critical incident organization, we respond to crises."

The chief also asked the Fire and Police Commission to consider moving the Internal Affairs Division to his office.  They decided to take that matter up at a later date.

 

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