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Milwaukee's Proposed Public Safety Action Plan a Work in Progress

LaToya Dennis
Milwaukee leaders say the public safety plan released this week is a starting point for discussion

Milwaukee leaders on Tuesday released a plan some believe will help curtail crime in the city.

Over the summer, the Common Council’s Public Safety Committee held special meetings with agencies that work to keep the community safe. Those included the Milwaukee Police Department, the state Department of Corrections and the Wisconsin Department of Health and Human Services. They were summoned after the city experienced a rash of certain crimes, including vehicles thefts.

Now, after the city has also experienced a fatal police shooting and riots, some city leaders are at odds over the plan.

The Public Safety Action Plan includes a number of items that will likely prove controversial. Included are:

  • Recommendations for a boot camp-style program for at-risk youth
  • Hiring of 280 more permanent police officers
  • Reducing the electronic monitoring of adults and youth by keeping offenders in jail longer.

Milwaukee Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton made clear on Tuesday that not everyone is on board with all aspects of the plan, but he says it’s a good starting point.
“We cannot be afraid of actually putting something down on paper, of actually listening to people and where they are and where they feel like things should go and then start having that conversation. Why do we have to be afraid of the way other people think? So let’s put it down on paper, let’s start the conversation, and then let’s take the evidence, let’s take the data and then make our adjustments based off of the resources that we have,” Hamilton says.

According to the plan, violent crime began to trend upward in 2012 and has steadily been on the rise. And while crime is up, the number of sworn police officers has declined by about 200 over the last eight years. 

Credit Public Safety Action Plan

“What we have there is a compilation of what we heard at committees, what we heard from interviews that had taken place amongst law enforcement professionals from a variety of agencies, what we heard from other aldermen as well. So I’m pleased with the recommendations,” Alderman Bob Donovan, chair of the Public Safety Committee, says.

The Common Council is now planning two public meetings, one on the north side and the other on the south side to collect feedback on the plan.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.
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