Franklin taxpayers face referendum on whether to hire more police officers

Taxpayers in Franklin will have to decide if they’re willing to pay for the police department to hire three more officers. 

The question will be on the ballot in November’s election. 

According to a Facebook post by Franklin Police, “despite a greater demand for officer time due to increases in crime and the complexity of investigations, Franklin PD’s staffing level has remained the same for nearly 20 years.” 

In the same social media post, police said Franklin has one of the four lowest ratios of officers and dispatchers per 1,000 civilians in Milwaukee County, at 1.67. 

The department’s yearly calls for service have stayed relatively consistent, hovering between 27,000 and 31,000 between 2008 and 2017, even as the municipality’s population has grown.

But according to police, Franklin’s detectives “are spending more time investigating heroin overdoses and financial crimes related to online identity theft. The complexities of these incidents make the investigations extremely time-consuming.” 

Franklin has also seen a spike in violent crimes. 

There were 55 murders, rapes, robberies and assaults reported in 2013. 

In 2017, that number was up to 124. 

November’s referendum will ask voters for approval to raise Franklin’s tax levy to fund three new police positions: two patrol officers and one detective. 

Franklin Mayor Steve Olson said if the referendum passes, it would mean an extra $15 in yearly taxes on each $100,000 in property. 

For example, the owner of a $250,000 home would pay an additional $37.50 in yearly taxes. 

Olson said the referendum came about after public officials reached out to citizens to get opinions on emergency response services in the city. 

“We gave them background information and had them fill out a survey,” the Mayor said. “It’s pretty safe to say most supported the idea of adding police services.” 

“This is an opportunity for the citizenry to make their voices heard with a direct vote on something that will impact them,” Olson added. 

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