Milwaukee Mayor Urges Greater Racial Sensitivity by Police
MILWAUKEE (AP) _ Mayor John O. Norquist said Friday that racial insensitivity was partly to blame when police left a naked Laotian boy in Jeffrey L. Dahmer’s apartment even though black neighbors pleaded the boy needed help.
The 14-year-old’s body was found later in the apartment among 11 dismembered corpses.
Police recordings from May 27 show three officers decided the boy, who appeared intoxicated, was Dahmer’s homosexual lover and returned him to the apartment. They joked about needing to be ″deloused″ afterward.
″There’s no way you can’t conclude racial sensitivity is an issue,″ Norquist said. ″There is no question in my mind the relationship has to be improved.″
The mayor created a panel to study police-community relations.
″I understand the rage that exists ... especially in the area most devastated by this killer,″ he said. ″The desire to lash out and fix blame is strong. But we must rememnber one man killed his victims.″
Earlier, in an interview with NBC’s ″A Closer Look,″ Norquist was asked if Dahmer would have been treated differently if he was black. Norquist answered yes. He did not elaborate.
Outraged residents marched on City Hall and police headquarters throughout the week. Many said police could have saved the boy and others who died there.
Dahmer, 31, has confessed to killing 17 people since 1978, including the boy and at least four others since the May 27 police encounter, authorities said.
Police Chief Philip Arreola suspended the officers. They face unspecified administrative charges.
State Attorney General James Doyle Jr. said Friday he will conduct an investigation to determine if the officers should face criminal charges.
In another development Friday, a judge granted Milwaukee police a search warrant to review 14 videotapes and computer disks confiscated from Dahmer’s apartment.
Court records don’t reveal the content of the seized materials, but a source told The Milwaukee Journal that most of the videotapes are commercial movies. Police want to check if anything was taped over the films.
The mayoral panel will recommend within 60 days improvements in officers’ sensitivity training, recruitment of minority officers and community relations, particularly in poor, high-crime neighborhoods, the mayor said.
″I expect the panel to include some critics of the department and I do not expect it to pull any punches,″ the mayor said.
A woman who insisted to police the boy was endangered is a hero, said C. Nicol Padway, chairman of the commission that oversees the police department. Glenda Cleveland pressed an officer who left the boy at Dahmer’s apartment, asking six times whether police had mistaken a molested boy for a homosexual lover.
″She is an example to be followed,″ Padway said. ″She was not content to sit by idly and merely watch but rather she persisted in her efforts to assist another human being.″
Mrs. Cleveland’s daughter and niece saw the boy on a street corner and called police. She later called one of the officers to ask why the boy had been left with Dahmer.
″Somebody goofed along the line. That is for sure,″ Mrs. Cleveland said.
Meanwhile, in Bath Township, Ohio, investigators found more bone fragments Friday at Dahmer’s boyhood home, where they have found more than 100 pieces of bone and teeth.
Dahmer has confessed to killing hitchhiker Steven Mark Hicks, 18, there in 1978, police said.