Empower Wisconsin | Dec. 21, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — There are a lot of numbers to keep in mind in the Milwaukee Common Council’s decision last week to partially defund the police.
But 10, 150 and 190 are most critical.
That’s $10 million for the three-year federal grant that would have funded 30 new police officers. The city rejected the grant in a 9-6 vote.
That means the Milwaukee Police Department will lose 150 police officer positions via attrition in the next year.
All of this is going down as the violent city had recorded 190 homicides, as of Friday, 90 more than the same time last year. As the calendar turned to December, Milwaukee County had marked more than 200 homicides for the year, shattering the county’s all-time morbid record of 174 set in 1993.
Most years, the cops grant is an afterthought, garnering little opposition. But 2020 isn’t most years.
The rejection comes amid the radical left’s deep hatred for police that exploded in rage following the death of George Floyd in May at the hands of Minneapolis officers. That sparked the Black Lives Matter movement to take to the streets in often violent protests, some devolving into looting and rioting. Leftists have called for sweeping law enforcement reforms, including defunding police departments.
They found a willing audience among liberal city government representatives, who have often eschewed common sense for placating angry members of the public.
Their efforts have worked, just not necessarily in the way they may have envisioned it. Police officers at retirement age and rookies alike have left their squads in droves after endlessly being vilified by the political leaders who want public safety without police.
“I feel sorry for the citizens of Milwaukee,” said Dale Bormann Jr., president of the Milwaukee Police Association. “(Council members) are receiving phone calls from the citizens saying, ‘We want police here,’ but they’re still moving toward defunding.”
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s proposed budget already called for the loss of 120 police officers next year, mainly through attrition. The council’s rejection of the federal grant will add another 30 law enforcement positions to the attrition ranks.
The move would seem counterintuitive in the face of the city’s grim homicide numbers. A raft of research shows more police presence reduces violent crime.
Milwaukee’s Common Council could bring back the federal grant proposal next month, following a move by an alder who originally opposed the grant. That just might have been the result of citizens expressing their displeasure at the council’s actions.
But the road to public safety ruin appears irresistible to many liberals these days. Look at Minneapolis, which was at the forefront of the defund movement. The Minneapolis city council recently approved a budget that shifted about $8 million from the police department. Council members, however, have gotten itchy about the phrase “defund the police,” looking to distance themselves from the idea that they have pushed.
“‘Defund’ is not the framework the council has ever chosen,” City Council member Steve Fletcher said in an interview.
Call it what they will, lots of cops are being pushed out and not replaced because of a radical movement putting U.S. cities in peril.
The numbers don’t add up to public safety or common sense.