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Mayor pressed for solutions as Milwaukee breaks homicide record for 3rd straight year

"​It takes multiple approaches to tackle this very complex problem," Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said.
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Posted at 4:30 PM, Nov 21, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-21 19:24:32-05

MILWAUKEE — The City of Milwaukee has set a new homicide record for the third straight year.

Milwaukee police data shows 194 lives have been lost to violence in the city so far this year. That’s one more than the total from all of last year and four more than 2020.

It’s more than just a troubling statistic. Each victim has a face their family and friends can now only see in pictures, like 12-year-old Olivia who was shot outside her home earlier this year.

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"She was just bringing in groceries,” Olivia’s mother Celeste Wilson said on October 11. “Somebody started shooting in the back."

Another girl named Tommorrowwas just days away from her 8th-grade graduation.

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"What are you doing tomorrow? You gotta work, right? But my Tommorow is gone,” said Tommorrow’s grandmother Monica Blake.

Milwaukee Police Chief Jeff Norman says 2022 got off to a grim start after six people were murdered in late January inside the same house.

"We had a number of mass shootings that unfortunately rocked our community,” Chief Norman said. “Reflecting on the numbers I saw earlier this year, around February of 2022, we were over 118 percent in homicides. Right now, we're hovering around 12 percent."

Milwaukee police data shows 56 percent of homicides this year have resulted in an arrest. That’s up from 44 percent by this time in 2021.

While Chief Norman says the city is now trending in a better direction, Mayor Cavalier Johnson says poverty and the effects of the pandemic are continuing to lead to crime.

"Milwaukee and other cities across the country have struggled mightily with homicides with the onset of Covid, so certainly there's work to do and we're doing a lot of things,” he said.

“What can you do differently to make sure next year isn’t a fourth straight year of record homicides?” TMJ4 asked.

"It takes multiple approaches to tackle this very complex problem of five generations of economic disinvestment which then leads to poverty which then leads to crime and sometimes deadly violence and crime that happens in neighborhoods so we're doing a number of things to address those things,” Mayor Johnson replied.

Mayor Johnson says the city is working on economic development opportunities to connect people with good-paying jobs. Meanwhile, the city hopes to further expand youth programming to surround kids with positive influences.

Homicide data shows more than a third of homicide victims so far this year were between the ages of 18 and 29.

"We've had connections to young people who have been lost,” said Running Rebels Co-Executive Director Dawn Barnett.

For the past four decades, the program has used basketball as a tool to connect thousands of young people with mentors in their community.

"We thought that by us just doing the work that we do that that could help fix the city, but no one entity can fix the city,” Barnett said.

She believes it takes a united effort from the entire community, especially at home.

"Everybody can do this,” Barnett said. “Pay attention to the young people. Pay attention to people around you, period. There's a lot of pain so we have to be connected to that."

Mayor Johnson says the city can’t just be responsible for solutions to this problem. He wants the state and federal government to address issues related to the accessibility of guns, particularly how they can be bought off the street via private sales without background checks.

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