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'I'm supportive of something of that nature': MPD Chief discusses idea of downtown security boundary

Chief Jeffrey Norman
Posted at 5:52 AM, May 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-18 11:59:07-04

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said he would support a downtown security boundary to curb violence, according to our partners at the Milwaukee Business Journal.

"(I'm) supportive of something of that nature, but that's beyond my wheelhouse," Norman told the Business Journal. "I know that (idea) was floating around last year. I believe that may be floating around again this year."

Should something like that be implemented in the city of Milwaukee, it would be up to city agencies and elected officials to draw the boundaries and establish rules for the area.

Norman told the Milwaukee Business Journal that he would also "absolutely" support metal detectors being placed at the entrance to a possible security perimeter to detect concealed firearms and help with the flow of traffic into the secured area.

“I'm very supportive of that if there was some type of area for the downtown entertainment district because that is an enhancement to safety; it shows that the community is taking it seriously," he said.

According to the Business Journal, other cities have instituted security admission fees for popular entertainment districts to help pay for additional security. But doing something like that in Milwaukee would require collaboration, Norman said.

"There's only so much that the police department can do," he said. "The security is (run) by the businesses. It's when those are in violation of what those rules of engagement for that particular area is, is where we get involved."

Norman said MPD is careful about how it engages in public spaces, and officers only take action when they see something that is clearly illegal.

The Business Journal said the idea of a security perimeter was floated around last summer after a series of shootings and events, but some business owners in the area rejected the idea, saying it could hurt businesses even more, as they were already struggling due to the pandemic.

Last summer, however, the city did implement parking restrictions and towed vehicles that were parked illegally. Those efforts have not started this year, but are still on the table, Norman said.

"This is an ongoing conversation with government partners," Norman said. "What we have done is sit down and strategize. Moving forward, what will be the lift? That's still being worked out. ... We're going to do all that it takes in regards to ensure that there's safety in the downtown area."

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