RACINE — Nine months after Racine Mayor Cory Mason ordered a review of the Police Department’s “cultural climate,” it still remains a mystery what has been found and how much the city has spent on the study.
Racine Alderman Sandy Weidner said the public deserves to know what the study found and how much it cost the city. On Tuesday, she requested the city’s Finance and Personnel Committee to discuss the matter.
The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for 5 p.m. Monday at City Hall, 730 Washington Ave., Room 307.
“This should be public,” Weidner said.
The Journal Times has an outstanding open records request pertaining to the study results and the cost of the study. On Tuesday, an inquiry about the status of the study and costs was forwarded by the Office of the Mayor to the City Attorney’s Office and no answer was provided.
The summary of a March 2018 survey of police officers showed that officers had reported inconsistent supervision and “absolutely horrible” morale. The survey, conducted by Chicago’s Stanard & Associates, cost a police union around $6,000, according to a Wisconsin Professional Police Association spokesman.
After those findings were made public, Mason then ordered another review of the department’s overall culture after racist and sexist remarks allegedly said by officers were revealed in the initial survey.
That study was conducted by Milwaukee-based diversity-focused MWH Law Group.
MWH Law Group did not reply to a request for comment Tuesday.
“This should be a public document and should be discussed by the council. He (Mason) can’t just ignore requests from aldermen like this,” Weidner said. “The mayor has to share what was found in that study.”
On June 19, while the Mason-ordered study was ongoing, Police Chief Art Howell asked for the City Council’s permission to spend up to $100,000 on a more intensive study by the International Association of Chiefs of Police.
The council approved the spending by an 11-2 vote, despite Mason declining to answer questions regarding study No. 2 during discussion of Howell’s request.
Weidner said she has recently reached out to the mayor’s office on three different occasions, requesting study results and the total amount of money the city has spent, but hasn’t heard back.
The Journal Times filed a records request in June requesting a copy of the contract with MWH and for invoices received from the firm. Those documents were never received.
On Aug. 17, The Journal Times filed another records request for the results of the review and, once again, the invoices from MWH Law Group. The Journal Times has still not received the study or any MWH invoices pertaining to it.
A legal concern
Weidner expressed concern that the council didn’t have any say in which law firm was hired for the study Mason ordered and that there wasn’t a bidding process for the study’s contract.
The City Attorney’s Office doesn’t need to consult the council before assigning the contract, per local ordinance, nor is bidding necessary as it would be for a road repair contract, said Shannon Powell, a spokesman for the mayor.