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Milwaukee mayor candidates discuss crime prevention, safety plans for the city

Posted at 6:53 PM, Jan 12, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-12 21:56:10-05

MILWAUKEE — The Acting Mayor of Milwaukee Cavalier Johnson, shared his safety plan for reducing crime Wednesday.

At a press conference, Milwaukee’s Police Chief Jeffrey Norman, along with Arnitta Holliman, the director of Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention, former director Reggie Moore, and other community partners stood behind Johnson.

Johnson says he will not make any cuts to the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD). He wants more officers out in the city's neighborhoods connecting with community members, and collaboration with a wide range of community organizations. He also plans to make sure every child and teen has access to positive community organizations, and education and job programs.

“We put too much on the shoulders of police officers in this community in the past,” Johnson said. “While police are a crucial piece of public safety, we need to steer away from that and realize that there are other partners to prevent and reduce crime and violence in this city.”

Johnson’s plan includes investing more than $5 million into Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention. He says that money would come from the city’s next allotment of “American Rescue Plan Act” money.

Johnson faces a tough primary election challenge in February. He is among six candidates hoping to take over the term of former Mayor Tom Barrett, who has been appointed U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg. The other candidates running for mayor include former alderman Bob Donovan, current alderwoman and Chair of the Public Safety and Health Committee, Marina Dimitrijevic, Senator Lena Taylor, Milwaukee County Sheriff Earnell Lucas, and Milwaukee businessman Michael Sampson.

TMJ4 News reached out to all of them Wednesday and asked about their solutions to public safety and crime reduction.

Donovan says his priorities would be adding officers to the Milwaukee Police Department and making sure there are checks and balances among officials within the legal system to better crack down on criminals and repeat offenders.

“Until we're able to give the Milwaukee Police Department the appropriate resources to do its job effectively, and then also hold our district attorneys and our judges accountable for holding our criminals accountable, all the proposals that candidates provide are nothing more than words,” Donovan said.

Donovan has shared his public safety plan here.

Sheriff Lucas says his safety plan as mayor would focus on getting specific results for crime reduction. He says MPD’s current homicide clearance rate of 50 percent is unacceptable.

“More crimes need to be solved,” Lucas said. “We need to give the police department and its allies the resources they need and hold them accountable for measurable goals, like reduction of violent crime, recovery of guns. We must have actionable and measurable goals to know we're really addressing this problem.”

Senator Taylor says it’s about creating more creative community policing models, while using neighborhood leaders and city agencies more effectively. She also points to the need for more assistance helping people who are incarcerated reenter society successfully, and creating positive opportunities for children sooner.

“There’s not one solution, it’s going to take everyone working together cohesively,” Taylor said. “Don’t get me wrong we need police, but we also need to reposition how we use our police officers so they’re doing the things they’re needed to do. Then, some of the issues tied to things like mental health, domestic violence, poverty, we need to get the right people to respond to those challenges effectively. There is so much more tied to public safety than crime.”

Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic says she would put more focus on fulfilling the Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention’s Blueprint for Peace. She says an absolute necessary part of the equation is getting to the underlying issues behind the increased crime and violence. She says she’s been actively trying to get families more support in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I think the best investment of our money is to address root causes, like recidivism and childhood trauma,” Dimitrijevic said. “That’s how you prevent violence from every happening. It’s the most affordable, and makes the most impact.”

Sampson shared a statement that reads in part, “Why do we keep trying to spend more money and reinvent the wheel? It’s time for the city to officially pass and put into action the “Milwaukee Blueprint for Peace” created by the Office of Violence Prevention in 2017."

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