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HomeWRN VoicesAs a Waukesha County Resident, I Welcome Joseph Mensah to Protect Our...

As a Waukesha County Resident, I Welcome Joseph Mensah to Protect Our County

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“As a resident of Waukesha County, I feel perfectly safe having Mensah protect me and all residents of the county.”

I live in Waukesha County, so I have standing to commend Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson for his gutsy move to hire former Wauwatosa Police Officer Joseph Mensah as a sheriff’s deputy.

I suspect that Deputy Mensah will have a more welcoming reception in Waukesha County than he did in Milwaukee County. He certainly will from me. If I encounter Officer Mensah on duty in my community, I would shake his hand and thank him for protecting us.

As a resident of Waukesha County, I feel perfectly safe having Mensah protect me and all residents of the county of every ethnic background. He also adds diversity to the Waukesha force, which is a good thing. In fact, I feel safer having him on the job.

Why?

Because there’s no evidence that Mensah is not a good cop. I acknowledge that it’s very rare for an officer to be involved in three fatal on-duty shootings, as he has been, and I don’t like to see anyone lose their life. However, in each case, the man shot had a weapon.

In each case, the man shot could have made a different decision and complied with officers’ orders. In each case, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm found that Mensah acted in lawful self defense. That matters. A lot.

According to Chisholm and former US Attorney Steve Biskupic, who both investigated the matters:

  • Alvin Cole was shot by Mensah after bringing a gun to Mayfair Mall, getting in an argument with someone while armed, running from police and then, at the critical moment, THREE officers (Mensah and two others) say he pointed the gun in their direction before Mensah shot him.
  • Jay Anderson repeatedly reached for a gun, refused orders not to do so, and then lunged toward the gun when Mensah shot him.
  • Antonio Gonzalez was wielding a large sword, refused orders to drop it, raised it above his head and then moved in striking distance of Mensah.
  • Those details make it clear Mensah was protecting the community. The protest movement has it backwards. He was not the person doing wrong in any of those situations.In addition, Sheriff Severson said Mensah underwent an “extensive, thorough and exhaustive hiring process.” He also revealed that he “assembled a team who exhaustively reviewed Mr. Mensah’s previous work history. I have concluded along with Milwaukee DA, Wauwatosa, PD, Milwaukee PD, as well as an independent investigation conducted by Wauwatosa Police and Fire commission that Mr. Mensah’s use of force was consistent with the Federal and State laws, Wisconsin training and uniformly applied police policy.”

    I never felt that Mensah should have had to give up his job in Wauwatosa for shootings in which the DA ruled he did nothing wrong.

    It sets a terrible precedent for an officer to lose his job for justified shootings.  Why shouldn’t he be hired by another force despite shootings that were lawful?

    Yes, the People’s Revolution group has called for Mensah’s firing and worse. But Mensah has endured months of harassment from this group that, as my colleague Jim Piwowarczyk has reported, culminated in an August attack so vicious that Mensah and his police officer girlfriend were beaten, injured, and had a gun discharged at them. Disgraceful.

    In Wauwatosa, officials, other than Police Chief Barry Weber, showed a spineless lack of support for the officer, with the Common Council even voting on a resolution urging his firing before the investigation into the third shooting was even completed. Also disgraceful. (Disclosure: My uncle, Dennis McBride, is the mayor of that community).

    Yes, former U.S. Attorney Steve Biskupic wrote a report saying Mensah should lose his job. However, Biskupic’s report was extremely weak tea. He was upset that Mensah spoke to a talk radio host without the chief’s permission, which probably wasn’t a great idea, but Chief Weber didn’t seem very bothered by it, and, at that point, Mensah had been so harassed for so long that it’s understandable why he wanted to get his side out.  Either way, that’s not enough to think he won’t do a good job in Waukesha County, although he should probably ask Sheriff Severson if he ever feels like talking to Dan O’Donnell. Biskupic also advanced the ridiculous argument that Mensah should lose his job because he could hypothetically be involved in a fourth shooting. That’s just incredibly unfair. He found a few other issues that were pretty minor in totality.

    Finally, Mensah has the commensurate experience to be a Waukesha County deputy.

    According to Biskupic’s report, Mensah became a probationary police officer in 2015 in the City of Wauwatosa. He completed his probationary period on 2016. He was previously a Dane County deputy sheriff and UW-Madison patrol officer. He was “well-liked by his colleagues and considered by them to be a good officer. His fellow officers continue to strongly support him.” Mensah’s personnel file in Wauwatosa contained only one disciplinary incident, a letter of reprimand for negligently causing a minor collision. His file contained 14 pages of commendations from citizens and other police departments.

    Welcome to the county, Deputy Mensah.

     

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Jessica McBridehttps://www.wisconsinrightnow.com
Jessica McBride, a Wisconsin Right Now contributor, is a national award-winning journalist and journalism educator with more than 25 years in journalism. Jessica McBride’s journalism career started at the Waukesha Freeman newspaper in 1993, covering City Hall. She was an investigative, crime, and general assignment reporter for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for a decade. Since 2004, she has taught journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Her work has appeared in many news outlets, including Heavy.com (where she is a contributor reaching millions of readers per month), Patch.com, WTMJ, WISN, WUWM, Wispolitics.com, OnMilwaukee.com, Mi