City of Milwaukee Settles Stop-and-Frisk Lawsuit in which Analysis Group Collaborated with the ACLU

August 6, 2018

In Milwaukee, as in a number of other American cities, black and Latino residents have raised concerns that they are disproportionately stopped and frisked by police, without reasonable suspicion as required by law. These complaints led in 2017 to Collins, et al. v. City of Milwaukee, et al., a lawsuit filed by the ACLU challenging the city's stop-and-frisk program on the grounds that it violated residents' rights under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the US Constitution.

Among the evidence the ACLU submitted to the federal court in the suit were expert reports by Analysis Group affiliate David Abrams and criminal justice consultant Margo Frasier. An Analysis Group team including Vice President Shannon Seitz and Associates Rebecca Scott and Nick Vigil worked with the ACLU and Covington & Burling LLP, and supported both Professor Abrams and Ms. Frasier. Professor Abrams's report concluded that, even after controlling for factors other than race and ethnicity, black people in Milwaukee are significantly more likely to be subjected to traffic and pedestrian stops and searched after being subjected to a traffic stop, even though it is highly unlikely that these stops and searches will result in the discovery of drugs or weapons. Ms. Frasier's study concluded that, in a majority of documented traffic and pedestrian stops, officers had failed to identify individualized, objective, and articulable reasonable suspicion of criminal activity or vehicle equipment violations prior to conducting the stop. Her report also concluded that Milwaukee police officers routinely failed to document race and ethnicity information about people subjected to such stops.

The case was settled after a year and a half of litigation. As part of the settlement, reforms were instituted that are intended to overhaul how Milwaukee police conduct, document, supervise, and monitor stops and frisks in the future.