MILWAUKEE -- The federal government is bringing additional prosecutors and more plans for partnerships with local law enforcement to attack what it says is an increase in violent crime in Milwaukee.
"We'll be bringing some new resources some resources to Milwaukee. We'll be announcing two new assistant United States attorneys, a significant increase," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions on WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News."
"Partnership between federal officers, which make up about 15 percent of the law enforcement officers in the country, and our much larger partners in state and local law enforcement. That partnership is so important. If we do it effectively, through a project we call Project Safe Neighborhoods, we've got proven scientific data that shows we can bring crime rates down. That's what we intend to do."
Sessions did not say whether that increased presence will only focus on violent crime, or if it would involve other federal initiatives including immigration-related arrests and prosecution.
Sessions cited what he called "a surprising increase in crime in Milwaukee." He did not cite the years of comparison when he said murders were up 57 percent and that the murder rate was up 21 percent while on our show.
However, there certainly has been an increase in murders, both in Milwaukee and nationally in recent years, with Milwaukee's murder rate climbing much higher than the national average between 2014 and 2016.
2014: 14.3 murders for every 100,000 citizens
2016: 25.9 murders for every 100,000 citizens
However, Milwaukee's murder rate is on pace to drop nearly 21 percent in 2017, with a projection of 20.5 murders per 100,000 citizens (a projection of 122 by the end of the year, based on 118 murders as of Dec. 18).
Sessions cites efforts by Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn with more targeted policing efforts in the city.
"Those kind of programs identify the alpha criminals in the community," said Sessions.
"This is the kind of professionalism, if we can improve, refine and sustain over time, we'll begin to reduce crime."
Still, Milwaukee's murder rate is much higher than it was in 1980, where there were 11.6 murders per 100,000 citizens - much nearer to the national level of 10.2 murders.
"We've made real progress (nationally). When I became a United States attorney in the early 1980's, we had a high murder rate. A few years ago, it went to less than half of that," he said.
The national murder rate dropped to 4.5 murders for every 100,000 citizens in 2014, but has risen to 5.3 in 2016.
"We've seen a substantial bounce-back, a 20 percent increase in murders in just two years after two decades of decline. Our rates are up. Crime is up across the board in most ways, particularly violent crime. It's not a little matter."
Despite a greater awareness in recent years of issues involving police officer misconduct, particularly in situations involving profiling of minorities - some that have been deadly, Sessions says the issue does not lie with the officers.
"We have to have our police supported by our community," said Sessions. "We know the police are not the problem. It's the criminals that are the problem. The police are the solution to the problem."
Sessions will appear later Monday to announce more plans for these federal initiatives. Protests are planned outside the speech in response to increased and targeted immigration enforcement, which protesters say is targeted at particular ethnic groups.
(Crime and population statistics courtesy bjs.gov, milwaukee.gov and jsonline.com)
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