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WUWM & MPTV Special SeriesWhy are so many Wisconsinites behind bars?And, what are the costs?In the 2010 Census, Wisconsin had the highest percentage of incarcerated black men in the nation. One out of every eight black men of working age is behind bars. In Milwaukee County, more than half of African American men in their thirties have served time in prison.Over the course of six months, WUWM and MPTV explored Wisconsin's high rate of black male incarceration, through expert analysis and personal stories.Why is the rate so high?How does imprisonment affect the men and their futures, as well as their families, neighborhoods and the region's economy?What are possible solutions?Contribute Your IdeasDo you have questions you'd like to have answered? Stories you'd like to share? Please share your questions and comments with us.

Police Seek End to "Get Even" Violence

Bob Bach

A Milwaukee police commander disputes the contention that officers are stopping too many African American males.

For months, WUWM and MPTV have been examining Wisconsin’s high rate of black male incarceration – the highest in the country.

This week, Milwaukee police have been sharing their strategy on whom they stop and arrest and, why. They say their actions are stabilizing neighborhoods and residents’ quality of life.

Some people in our Project Milwaukee series criticize police for pulling over too many black men.

Capt. Tom Stigler and Sgt. Louis Staton, disagree. They say police interaction and intervention can prevent violence and men going to prison.

“If we know there is repeat violence in a family situation, we try to get those people the resources they need to stop it on their own. But, if you have a neighborhood dispute that flares into a neighborhood fight, and then there’s weapons involved, those are the types of things that it is very hard for police to impact. But, what we are trying to do, and we’ve tried a lot in the last couple of years –and we’re really going to work hard on it this year again, is the retaliatory violence. So, if there is a neighborhood dispute, and somebody does get hurt, instead of just letting it sit, we’re going to dig down into that incident and try and have an impact on the people that may retaliate. If “John Smith” got a broken jaw in that fight, and John Smith has three brothers who are prone to acting out, we need to go out and have contact with those three brothers and say, ‘Listen, we got the guy that did this to your brother, he’s in jail, it’s not going to do you any good to try and shoot up somebody’s house or try and get revenge or retaliate in any way.’ And, that’s the type of impact we’re trying to have from this point going forward, but it’s difficult. It takes a lot of resources, it takes a lot of investigation on the front end to identify those linkages as we call them between the crime to try and break that cycle of violence,” Capt. Stigler says.

Sgt. Louis Staton says he tries to leave a positive impression when he interacts with motorists and others.

“I try to talk to people on a daily basis especially when the weather is warm. And when I talk to them, they want to be hopeful that things are getting better, things are changing, so that’s the “take away” that I get, most of the time,” Staton says.

Tom Stigler says most people he encounters want stability in their neighborhoods.

“It’s a very small element, a very, very small element of the community that creates the majority of the crime. We always say in Milwaukee it’s 10 percent of the offenders account for 60 percent of our violent crime, and the data proves that. Those are the 10 percent of the people that we try to have an impact on, and I think we are”.

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