Brookfield Village President Kit Ketchmark read a formal statement on behalf of himself and the board of trustees at their village board meeting on June 8, following a week of both unrest and a wave of peaceful demonstrations, rallies and marches calling for systemic change on issues of race.
Ketchmark, reading from prepared remarks on Monday, acknowledged that demand for change and called for a collective effort on the part of the community to do that.
“In our community, like communities all across the country, it is clear that there is work to be done in addressing racism,” Ketchmark said. “We ask you to join us to help build bridges rather than tearing them down.
“We don’t have all the answers for you today. But it is our hope that in the coming weeks and months, through planning, organizing and community engagement, we will collectively find ways to make this a more just place to live, work and play for those who have been discriminated against in big and small ways.”
The full statement can be found online at this link.
James Landahl, a 2013 graduate of Riverside-Brookfield High School and a Brookfield resident, making the public’s first comment to the village board since the coronavirus pandemic forced the village board to begin limiting the number of people attending meetings in person, asked elected officials to reconsider how funds are spent on police and asking what measures Brookfield police are taking to ensure what happened to George Floyd do not happen here.
“It is irresponsible to assume that our police department is immune from the racial discrimination that has led to the deaths of countless and innocent black and brown men and women throughout the United States,” Landahl said in his written comment, which was read aloud by Village Manager Timothy Wiberg. “Does the Brookfield Police Department have a reliable system of accountability that ensures the officers report their peers’ misconduct?”
Landahl also questioned a $10,000 annual budget line item for “ammunition and range supplies,” suggesting that money could be better spent elsewhere.
Trustee Ed Cote addressed the first part of Landahl’s comment by pointing out that the Brookfield Police Department’s use-of-force policy requires officers to intercede and report if a fellow officer uses unreasonable force against anyone.
He also said that department policy forbids officers from placing their knees on any suspect’s neck while attempting to detain them – George Floyd’s death resulted from such an action – and also forbids the use of chokeholds, unless the use of deadly force is absolutely necessary.
Ketchmark in his statement called Brookfield police “professional, caring and connected to our community.”
“We have had open and honest discussions with our chief over the last couple of weeks,” Ketchmark said. “It is clear to us that the department shares our firm belief that everyone deserves to feel safe in our village and not be the victim of prejudice or bias. No one should walk or drive down the street and fear for their safety simply because of the color of their skin.”
In an op-ed published in the Landmark on June 10, the leaders of Indivisible Brookfield, an active, progressive political organization that sprouted in 2016 following the election of Donald Trump as president, called for Brookfield police to be defunded and to use those dollars for other purposes.
“When we defund police, we can invest in black community-led education, health and safety programs — funding for schools and youth homelessness services, solutions to the opioid crisis, and non-police responders for crises, such as mental health response teams and community violence prevention programs,” Indivisible Brookfield said.
In a phone interview, Ketchmark said the demand reflected the frustration people are feeling.
“People want to be heard and they’re frustrated,” Ketchmark said. “I think it means change more than getting rid of police. I think what it’s really coming back to is people want change.”