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New Milwaukee chief starts police community effort

Acting Milwaukee Police Chief Michael Brunson, left, talks as Mayor Tom Barrett looks on during a press conference announcing a new Milwaukee Police Department-led initiative to improve police-community relations, at the Community Warehouse, in Milwaukee on Wednesday. (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

Acting Milwaukee Police Chief Michael Brunson, left, talks as Mayor Tom Barrett looks on during a press conference announcing a new Milwaukee Police Department-led initiative to improve police-community relations, at the Community Warehouse, in Milwaukee on Wednesday. (Mike De Sisti/Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel via AP)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — Milwaukee’s new acting police chief has started an effort to help rebuild trust with the community.

Acting Chief Michael Brunson Sr. on Wednesday introduced the “ReWaukee Project,” a new initiative aimed at improving police-community relations.

The project will organize numerous “speak out” sessions at which everyone will be invited to discuss police-community issues in a virtual format. Each group will be limited to fewer than a dozen participants. The sessions will be facilitated through a Milwaukee nonprofit and documented by a consultant, who will produce the results in a public report.

“What we want to know is what people think, what they feel, what do they want from the Police Department,” Brunson said at an event introducing the initiative.

Last week the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission named Brunson acting chief after demoting Chief Alfonso Morales to captain. The oversight board questioned how Morales handled multiple incidents, including ordering officers to fire tear gas and pepper spray at protesters demonstrating over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis.

The Milwaukee Police Department has been working on the concept of the “ReWaukee Project” since the start of recent civil unrest, but the speak-outs launched Wednesday are Brunson’s first initiative aimed at building trust within the community, the department said.

The slogan for the ReWaukee Project is “Reform. Reimagine. Rebuild.” The sessions are expected to begin in early September.

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