Journal Sentinel investigation into Milwaukee cops prompted change before it was published

After a two-year investigation, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Sunday that 93 police officers have been disciplined for violating state laws or local ordinances, and that, among other things, “officers who abuse their spouses or romantic partners are allowed to keep their jobs, carry loaded weapons and respond when battered women call for help.”

“My work on this project had impact before it was published,” reporter Gina Barton wrote in a Nieman Watchdog post. One officer, accused of an on-duty rape, “dropped his appeal to get his job back and was later indicted by federal prosecutors for violating the woman’s civil rights.”

Barton writes that the governor vetoed a legislative provision that would keep paying fired officers while their appeals were pending, and that the police chief “rolled out a new program of education, support and discipline for officers who have problems with alcohol.”

Barton, who said she’s received more reaction to this series than to anything else she’s written in her 17-year career, will hold an online chat about her work on Wednesday at 11:30 a.m. CDT.

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