MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee police say there has been a decrease in homicides and other violent crime but say there is still room to improve.
"I can tell you, the City of Milwaukee is safe," Chief Alfonso Morales said. "But how can I say that when we do have violent crimes?"
In 2017, there were 119 homicides. In 2018, there were 99 and in 2019, there were 97. Since 2017, when Morales took over as chief, the city has seen an 18 percent decrease in homicides. It's a trend Morales believes will continue as his regime continues to work.
"It takes at least four years to institutionalize the changes we're making with the department," Morales said. "Realistically, the training we want to implement won't really be felt until 2021."
The city also saw a decrease in other violent crimes, such as non-fatal shootings and carjackings. In 2017, there were 558 reported non-fatal shootings. There were 476 in 2018 and 452 in 2019.
However, Morales says things will get more difficult for the department due to budget restrictions.
"Our budget decreased," Morales said. "One of the biggest things we've done in the last two years is work in community relations."
"To say things are improving because we have a slight decrease in homicides, I wouldn't paint that rosy a picture," Fred Royal, President of the NAACP said.
Royal is also running for Alderman in the 7th District. He applauds the decrease in violent crime but says the constituents in his neighborhood still have concerns. He cited several violent crimes in the area and says neighbors have big concerns about burglaries, property theft and more. So he says, and Morales agrees, it will take collaboration between the police and community to make real change.
"Don't get me wrong," Royal said. "I support Chief Morales and his efforts. But in combination with the economy improving and the efforts of the Office of Violence Prevention, all of these contribute to the decrease in crime. Not just policing."
"It's how to stop the other person from retaliating and shooting back at the suspect," Morales said. "Today's victim is tomorrow's suspect. Identifying there are ways we can reduce the second incident from occurring and in that picture, is where our district captains play a big role. Working when it's a place-based issue and bring in local community organizations and problem-solving when these problems arise."
Chief Alfonso Morales says he's most proud of how resilient the officers have been after three line of duty deaths in the last two years. He credits the decrease in violent crime to "the dedicated men and women of the Milwaukee Police Department, neighboring law enforcement partners, members of the public and the community at large."