By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — After villainizing law enforcement and placating the radical “defund the police” movement, Gov. Tony Evers is dropping millions of dollars in federal funds at his disposal on violence prevention programs.
State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo says Evers’ big announcement last week is “days late and dollars short,” a paper initiative that fails to support law enforcement again.
“We have seen what Bash the Blue solutions have done to help combat the spread of crime – absolutely nothing. In fact, it has only made things worse. Homicides are up. Aggravated assaults are up. Motor vehicle thefts are up. Arson is up,” Sanfelippo said in a press release.
The New Berlin Republican, a vocal critic of what many see as a revolving-door criminal justice system in Wisconsin’s most liberal cities, has urged Evers to direct $500 million to hiring more law enforcement personnel. He said that appeal has fallen on deaf ears.
Evers announced his plan in Milwaukee, a city that has been under siege from violent crime even as Evers’ closest political allies there have spouted defund the police rhetoric. More so, they killed some $10 million in federal funding that would have put officers on the crime-ridden streets.
The funds, drawn from the state’s $2.5 billion share of American Rescue Plan Act federal aid, will be divided into two initiatives: $25 million for violence prevention efforts, and $20 million for victim support.
“As much as we need to prevent violence from happening in the first place, we also need to actually address the trauma experienced by the victims, do what we can to support their healing and interrupt that cycle,” Evers said.
“This announcement is a critical piece of the puzzle in making our communities safer and fighting crime across Wisconsin,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul.
It’s more liberal programming that does little if anything to put law enforcers on the streets to deal with the rash of violent crime.
“If Governor Evers truly wants to help prevent the spread of crime and violence, as well as help prevent Wisconsinites from becoming victims in the first place, he should follow the advice of President Biden and direct ARPA funds to help pay for additional law enforcement personnel and district attorney staff,” Sanfelippo said. “If we don’t have enough boots on the ground to stop criminals in their tracks or enough district attorney staff to hold criminals accountable, other violence prevention efforts will be made in vain. We need to remove criminals from our streets and hold them accountable for their crimes.”
Evers is handing out $8 million of the funds directly to Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention “to respond to the pandemic-related uptick in violence and trauma with projects that take a public health approach to violence prevention.”
His pandemic-related policies — locking down citizens and businesses in particular — helped drive the uptick in violence.
Dale Bormann Jr., former president of the Milwaukee Police Association, said the city needs leadership to stand up against the anti-police radicals on the City Council and strengthen a police department being hit by attrition and low morale.
“I wish they would get someone in the mayor’s office who cares about citizens and not just themselves,” Bormann, who retired in August, said of the eventual departure of long-time Democrat Mayor Tom Barrett, who eagerly awaits his ambassadorship in Luxembourg.
Milwaukee’s budget director has said 450-600 officers may be lost to public safety through attrition over the next four years, about 40 percent of the police force.
Evers is offering more social programming, not public safety in his latest opportunity to play Santa with taxpayer money, critics say.
“If our police don’t receive any help then what’s the point in having a police department,” Bormann said.