MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) released its first-ever community report, detailing how it’s responding to crime.
Chief Jeff Norman says he asked for the 44-page community report to be compiled and made public to show the department values transparency. It details some of MPD’s successes and flaws in addressing historic levels of homicides and non-fatal shootings.
"I hope it's an ‘aha’ moment that there is things that they don't know what their department is doing,” Chief Norman said.
The community report breaks down all sorts of data related to shootings and the technology the department utilizes. The city’s gunshot detection system called ‘ShotSpotter’ has already alerted police to more than 6,000 shots fired incidents on the city’s north-side this year alone.
Altogether, MPD data provided in the report shows officers have responded to more than 12,000 firearm-related calls for service in 2022.
MPD records also indicate the average call for service takes 18 minutes and 21 seconds for an officer to arrive on scene. That’s 70 seconds longer than it took for the average response in 2021. The department says a decrease in staffing coupled with an increase in demand for police services is to blame.
Chief Norman says MPD has extra patrols assigned to 15 neighborhoods that have a disproportionate amount of shootings. Those neighborhoods were identified as Arlington Heights, Franklin Heights, Garden Homes, Harambee, Hampton Heights, Lincoln Creek, Metcalfe Park, North Division, Old North Milwaukee, Park West, Roosevelt Grove, Sherman Park, Silver Spring, Walker’s Point and Washington Park.
MPD is partnering with dozens of organizations, like Community Messengers, who are trained to mediate conflicts to prevent and interrupt crime.
Chief Norman says federal partners are also helping police reduce illegal access to firearms.
"We have what's called a firearm denial program, part of the public safety review,” Chief Norman said. “Those who are attempting to buy firearms, we're going to knock on your door and tell you we're watching you. Yes, you might have gotten denied today, but we know that if we don't monitor you, you could be our next shooter tomorrow."
The report states police have recovered more guns far this year than each of the past three years to this date, but it also shows more guns have also been reported stolen.
Community activist Tracey Dent says it’s good to have a better understanding of MPD’s efforts to address violent crime, but he would like to see more officers develop relationships with people who live in Milwaukee’s neighborhoods.
"Get out the car, get off the bikes, walk the beats and getting to know the community and maybe just maybe the community will start trusting them more because they know who they are,” he said.
MPD says it’s asking for people to be a part of the solution by reporting crimes. An online portal is in the works for that. The department will also start holding downhill events to get feedback on how the department can make Milwaukee a safer community to live, work and raise a family.