MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee's Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson spent most of his State of the City address on the issue of public safety.
In January alone, the city saw children who were killed, a shooting at a high school basketball game, and three law enforcement officers injured in shootings.
"We need a renewed commitment to interrupting this violence and changing the trajectory of our city," Johnson said.
For two years in a row, the city has seen historic highs for homicides.
Milwaukee Police reported there are 25 homicides so far this year. There were 14 homicides over the same time frame in 2021 and eight in 2020. The Milwaukee County Medical Examiner warned that if trends continue, the city could surpass 300 homicides this year.
On the front lines of the fight is the city's Office of Violence Prevention (OVP). The acting mayor said OVP is getting "the largest investment ever" to support its efforts.
A spokesperson said the investment refers to more than $12 million in American Rescue Plan Act money. OVP's efforts include expanding work to interrupt violent retaliation and bringing it into new neighborhoods like the city's south side. However, Johnson said addressing poverty is key to stemming the root of crime and violence, and he called on everyone to rise to the challenge.
"We need to build new, open lines of communication with neighbors and with law enforcement. We need to raise expectations of appropriate behavior for all members of our community," Johnson said.
While Johnson delivered this year's State of the City address, he will face six other candidates who want to be Milwaukee's next mayor.
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The primary is next Tuesday. The top two with the most votes will move on to the general election in April.