By M.D, Kittle
MADISON — Two days before Thanksgiving, Milwaukee had recorded its 195th homicide of 2022, according to police. The violence-plagued city had posted another homicide record for the third straight year.
As bad as the new murder ceiling is, it’s even more unsettling to know there’s a month left on the calendar.
Mayor Cavalier Johnson said he feels Milwaukee’s pain.
“I understand that what they want is for justice to be served. They want to know that they didn’t lose their loved ones in vain. I stand with those families,” Johnson said last week as the city hit its latest deadly record.
The mayor has made similar statements over and over again in the opening year of his tenure in office. A lot of words. He tells anyone still listening to him that city partnerships are making a difference in cutting crime. But his assurances are hard to swallow for a city awash in blood.
This is the same mayor whose budget called for cutting the number of sworn police officer positions by 1 percent. Milwaukee already is facing a critically low level of police officers, according to the Milwaukee Police Association.
In late August, the Milwaukee Police Department had more than 230 vacancies. The severe policing shortage is not only leaving neighborhoods vulnerable to violence, it is leaving officers’ lives at risk.
“Two of our detectives were out doing follow-up. They noticed an armed robbery suspect had pulled up. They asked for uniform personnel to respond. When they asked for uniform personnel they were told there was no one to respond to them right now,” MPA President Andrew Wagner told WTMJ-4 in August.
The detectives were injured trying to apprehend the suspect. It wasn’t the first time, and Wagner said it wouldn’t be the last — given the vacancies and the law enforcement cuts.
The number of Milwaukee’s sworn police staff in Milwaukee has decreased by about 19% since 2000.
Despite unprecedented federal funding pouring into Milwaukee, city officials have warned of a “fiscal cliff.” Johnson said “there is nowhere else to go at this point,” so the police budget was on the chopping block.
The City Council passed a $1.7 billion budget that further delays new officer recruits in the class of 2023. Resistance by city officials to law enforcement, the remnants of the defund the police movement, continues to dog public safety. As the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, two amendments that would have increased the number of police recruits next year were defeated following defeats at the finance committee.
“At issue were not only philosophical differences about how to respond to violent crime but also fiscal pressures of employing additional officers in years to come,” the newspaper reported.
Is it any wonder Milwaukee has set another homicide record on the year — in November?
“Unfortunately, I think what took us a very short time of two years to get into is going to take us half a decade to get out of in order to train the officers, get the budget that we need to support the public safety that we should have in the city,” MPA’s Wagner told Fox6.
Empower Wisconsin | Nov. 28, 2022