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HomeWRN VoicesJan Wade: You Owe an Apology to Wisconsin's Finest

Jan Wade: You Owe an Apology to Wisconsin’s Finest


Jan Wade, you’re on notice. You’ve caught our attention, and we will be calling out your hypocritical, pandering, liberal anti-police editorials from now on.

Jan Wade, the president and general manager of WISN-TV, should apologize to the brave men and women of the Milwaukee Police Department and other law enforcement agencies, who are heroically risking their lives every day to serve the community with distinction.

In a recent “editorial,” Wade began, “While the death of George Floyd and the killing of Breonna Taylor led us to a reckoning on race in America, the guilty verdict of Derek Chauvin offered justice and hope, that a black life truly mattered, but how can that justice also bring change for those of us here in Milwaukee?” She then went on to condemn law enforcement for “injustices” in Milwaukee and Kenosha, urging sweeping policing reforms.

Her full editorial can be seen here.

We’d recommend that, if she really cares about diversity and racial issues, she should start by hiring more black reporters to serve as local reporters at Channel 12 because the station is pathetically lacking in diversity that is commensurate to the diversity in Milwaukee’s population. The station does better in the anchor and DC bureau ranks when it comes to diversity, but not when it comes to news or sports reporters at home. Plus, WISN is led by a white woman (her).

Jan wade

Thus, if she wants to have a true “reckoning on race in America,” we suggest she step aside so that a person of color can lead WISN. We would note that the Milwaukee Police Department is, in contrast, a diverse institution that is currently being led by a black acting chief (with a Latino chief trying to get his job back). So which institution is the more racist one?

If you’re a white leader of an almost entirely white local reporting staff (if not an entirely white local reporting staff), you don’t get to pontificate about supposed racism in another institution that’s actually quite diverse, sorry.

She then cited the aforementioned list of “injustices” over the years in Milwaukee. On that list, the death of Dontre Hamilton, who was attacking a cop with his own baton in a shooting ruled justified by the DA.

According to NBC News, DA John Chisholm found that former Milwaukee police officer Christopher Manney “was justified in firing at Dontre Hamilton” because “Hamilton had taken Manney’s baton while the officer was responding to a complaint about a man sleeping in a public park, and Manney was attempting to ‘stop the threat.'” Chisholm found that Manney’s shooting of Hamilton was a “defensive action forced upon him by Dontre Hamilton’s deadly attack with a police baton.” Maybe Wade should look up her own news archives. Why does she know more than the DA?

She drags out the admittedly awful Daniel Bell case that occurred in 1958. Thus, she’s now blaspheming an entire modern police force for a death that occurred 63 years ago. To pretend modern police forces haven’t improved their training or mindset in six decades is asinine. They have. Back in the early 2000s, use of force was basically tracked by anecdote at MPD. Over the years, use of force tracking greatly improved, and it’s now done constantly and in a very detailed fashion.

She named two other cases: the notorious Ernest Lacy case, which occurred 40 years ago (see the same point above.) She mentions Derek Williams, which was a sad case, but it should be noted that no officers were charged or disciplined for his death even after a special prosecutor was appointed. Lacy led to improved training for officers on positional asphyxia cases.

These four cases she turns into Milwaukee’s “long history of police misconduct, excessive force, and wrongful death.”

For good measure, she tosses in the Kenosha police shooting of Jacob Blake – again, which was ruled justified by the Kenosha County DA’s office and which included an independent review by a black former police chief. That apparently doesn’t matter to Wade. Does she know more than the DA and former Chief Noble Wray? Blake was wanted on a warrant for alleged sexual assault of a woman, and he was armed with a knife, fighting and trying to flee from police with children in a car. That incident resulted in parts of Kenosha burning to the ground. And Wade has the nerve to imply that it’s the cop’s fault? Why doesn’t she condemn Blake’s behavior?

Thus, Jan Wade’s evidence for smearing Milwaukee and other police consists of three cases (including one in another county) where the DA didn’t find any criminal charges and two cases more than 40 years old.

We’re not arguing that police have never made mistakes. Any large institution will have some people who do wrong. We are arguing that most members of law enforcement are doing good work every day that deserves acknowledgment, we’re arguing that police have continually improved their practices, we’re arguing that use of force is a rare event, we’re arguing that Milwaukee and other police aren’t inherently racist, and we’re arguing that the evidence she cites is flawed.

We would recommend that she look up the extremely large number of police contacts each year and compare them to the numbers of use of force incidents. Use of force is a rare event. From 2013 to 2018, MPD use of force declined by 24%, but you wouldn’t know it from the news. In that time frame, only 2.8-3.4% of arrests resulted in use of force. “In 2018, MPD officers made 90,745 traffic stops and 67 of them involved the use of force (33 of the 67 traffic stops also involved a foot pursuit; 49%)…In 2018, MPD officers conducted 6,945 subject stops and 39 of them involved the use of force (10 of the 39 subject stops also involved a foot pursuit; 26%),” the most recent report on the topic says on the FPC website. And remember that almost all of those use of force incidents are justified.

Based on these data, one can conclude that use of force in subject stops is a rare event, and the use of force in traffic stops is even more uncommon,” wrote the professor, Steven G. Brandl, who made the report. Many things constitute use of force, including incidents with dogs and pepper spray use. “The use of a firearm in a use of force incident was an uncommon event,” wrote Brandl.

From 2009 to 2018 there has been a decline in police use of firearms, with 2017 having a dramatic decline from 2016, and 2018 having a significant increase from 2017,” he wrote.

You’d think a journalist would use some research and data before implying an entire agency and profession are racist.

Jan Wade is also completely ignorant of police training, calling for limiting chokeholds (Chief Alfonso Morales said in a recent speech that MPD does not train officers to use chokeholds). She wants to create “reporting requirements for use of force,” even though use of force incidents are already reported to the civilian Fire and Police Commission.

From this stew of nonsense, she proclaims that “laws must change” and “true reform of our criminal justice system can finally bring change an equality for people of color, too, something we take for granted, and they’ve never had.”

We will be waiting for her editorial demanding change after the horrific midtown shooting spree or the loss of black lives to record homicide numbers in Milwaukee. Maybe she can call for DA Chisholm to start prosecuting more cases since we revealed he doesn’t prosecute about 60% of cases referred by police, including felonies.

This kind of rhetoric, based on misleading notions of a supposedly racist department causing inequality is not harmless. It erodes citizens’ trust in law enforcement at a time that law enforcement needs citizens to come forward with tips in order to solve cases.

General Manager Wade, you’re on notice. You’ve caught our attention, and we will be calling out your hypocritical, pandering, liberal anti-police editorials from now on.

Jim Piwowarczyk
Jim Piwowarczyk is an investigative journalist and co-founder of Wisconsin Right Now.

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