MILWAUKEE (AP) — Dominique Heaggan attended grade school in Milwaukee and joined the city’s police force as a teenage aide through a program that aims to recruit young people into law enforcement, including minorities.
Heaggan, identified by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel as the black officer at the center of a fatal shooting that sparked two nights of violence, has lived near the shooting scene since at least 2012 and was assigned to patrol that area after becoming a sworn officer.
Sylville Smith, 23, was shot Saturday after police said he fled from a traffic stop. Authorities have said Smith turned toward the officer with a gun in his hand. A few hours later, violence erupted on the city’s largely black north side, with protesters hurling rocks at police and burning six businesses.
An alumni invitation shows Heaggan attended grade school about 10 minutes away from the scene. It’s unclear whether he spent his entire childhood in the area.
Now 24, he joined the Milwaukee Police Department in July 2010 as an aide — essentially an apprentice. As an aide, his responsibilities would have included mostly administrative and clerical duties. Aides are required to complete a college curriculum and a physical fitness program before becoming officers.
Police agencies across the country offer similar programs as a way to recruit future officers and expose minorities to police work in hopes of increasing diversity.
“They may not come into the occupation in the same way people in the majority do,” said Mike Scott, an Arizona State University criminology professor who helped develop the New York City Police Department’s cadet program in the mid-1980s.
MaryNell Regan, executive director of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission, said the program does not specifically seek minorities but has a goal of “diversity in recruitment.” An online recruiting video linked to …read more