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February 6, 2015

Cops See It Differently - Part One

There are so many cops who look at the killing of Eric Garner or Mike Brown and say race didn't play a factor. And there are tons of black people who say that's insane. There's a division between people who distrust the police — even fear them — and people who see cops as a force for good. Stories of people living on both sides of that divide, and people trying to bridge it. (If you prefer, here's a bleeped version.)

Milwaukee police officers, photographed by Brian Reed

This show is a two-parter; you can listen to part two here.

Prologue

Ira tells the story of Lisa Mahone, who was pulled over by a police officer who she says was acting really weird. When he pulled a gun on her, Lisa decided to call 911 — on the cop. WBEZ has been covering this story since it happened in the fall. Here's their original story from October 2014. (7 1/2 minutes)

Act One

In 2008, the Milwaukee Police Department, which has a long history of tension with black residents, got a new chief named Ed Flynn. One of his big goals when he came to the city was to try and improve the relationship between cops and black Milwaukeeans. Producer Brian Reed shadows some Milwaukee officers, to see what the department is trying. Brian also tells the story of Derek Williams, who died in police custody, and asks Chief Flynn why his officers ignored Williams even though he kept saying, "I can't breathe." (20 minutes)

Act Two

Brian continues his story. Chief Flynn implements Milwaukee's version of stop and frisk, but some officers start illegally searching residents. An officer shoots and kills a black man in a park across from City Hall. And tensions erupt at a monthly Fire and Police Commission Meeting. Plus, Brian tags along as officers try to solve a shooting case. (31 minutes)

Song:

“We Don't See Eye to Eye” by Johnny Adams