Milwaukee alderman wants public referendum to pay for more police

Posted at 10:45 PM, Jul 20, 2016
and last updated 2016-07-21 13:41:15-04

Would having more police officers reduce crime in Milwaukee?  That's a question one alderman is asking, but it would come with a price for taxpayers.

We might not just be voting for our next president come November. City leaders may add a question on the ballot that affects public safety, and our taxes.

Southside Alderman Terry Witkowski is proposing a referendum to ask voters if they'd be willing to pay higher property taxes for 100 to 150 more police officers.  That tax increase would expire after five years.

"We'd have a surge of police officers to address today's problems, and if crime doesn't go down, or if extra officers is not the answer, then when the funding runs out after five years, that's the end of the program," he says.

Alderman Witkowski acknowledges that Milwaukee has an adequate number of officers, compared to similarly-sized cities. But he says the biggest concern his constituents have is crime in our city.

Already though, opinions are mixed on whether getting more feet on the ground is really the best use of taxpayer money.

"Crime is getting out of control, so I'm all for it," says Sharon Scherrer. "I think everybody should be willing to pay higher taxes to keep their community safe.

"My reservation is that 150 more police officers are really not going to make that much difference covering the area that they need to cover," says Karl Kellar. "Not to mention, a lot of people are in tough financial situations, [and are] already having a hard time paying all their bills and taxes." 

The full city council and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett only have a couple of weeks to decide whether they will vote in favor of putting this measure on the November ballot.