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U.S. Marshals director visits Milwaukee, pitches Safe Surrender program

Milwaukee is one of 10 cities nationwide plagued by violent crime that USMS Director Davis is visiting this month.
U.S. Marshals Service Director Ronald Davis
Posted at 4:47 PM, Jan 25, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-25 18:14:33-05

MILWAUKEE — The Director of the U.S. Marshals Service (USMS) met with city and county leaders at the Federal Courthouse in Milwaukee Wednesday.

Milwaukee is one of 10 cities nationwide plagued by violent crime that Davis is visiting this month.

The hour-and-a-half meeting focused on how federal, state, county, city and community agencies/leaders can work together to reduce crime and violence.

Here’s a list of people and organizations included in the meeting with U.S. Marshals Service Director Ronald Davis:

  • U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Wisconsin Anna Ruzinski
  • Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson
  • Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman
  • Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm
  • Milwaukee County Executive’s Office Chief of Staff Mary Jo Meyers
  • Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office
  • Milwaukee Common Council President, Alderman Jose Perez
  • Milwaukee Public Safety and Health Committee Chairwoman Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa
  • Medical College of Wisconsin Institute for Health and Equity, Dr. Connie Kostelac
  • Voice of the Fatherless Child Founder Monte Mabra
  • American Works Program Manager Gwendolyn Luckett

The main role of the USMS is to partner with local law enforcement agencies to investigate and apprehend fugitives with outstanding warrants.

Director Davis says it’s a small amount of people driving the majority of violence and crime in Milwaukee. He would like the USMS to be involved in more than just finding and arresting fugitives.

“I’m here to try and learn how the USMS can better support Milwaukee,” he said. “It has to be a community-driven effort. The more we can identify who the bad people causing crime are, the more we can provide other services to interrupt the violence and crime before it’s committed.”

While Davis did not provide specifics, he indicated in the 1.5-hour discussion that he might be able to get more federal resources to Milwaukee.

Community advocates suggested the USMS make more of an effort to get to know people in the neighborhoods they go into.

“I would like more engagement, so residents know the police are friends and not enemies,” said Monte Mabra, the founder of Voice of the Fatherless Child. “We have children and adults that are dealing with unresolved trauma and don’t always know or understand what law enforcement is trying to do to actually help them.”

"It’s very difficult to do police work without the assistance and cooperation of the community you’re trying to serve,” said Ashanti Hamilton, the Director of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention. “We’re trying to help build that level of trust.”

Director Davis also pledged his support to bring a program in Milwaukee that changes the way some warrants are served, so it’s not always law enforcement showing up at homes, in neighborhoods, to take people into custody.

The program, called Safe Surrender, is already in place in Cleveland.

“We have tens of thousands of warrants in our system,” said Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm. “This is a program in which people can voluntarily come to a neutral location and take responsibility for the warrant that’s out for them. It starts the process of accountability. Warrants often prevent people from getting work or more help. For police, serving warrants can be dangerous work and takes a lot of time and resources when we could be focusing on more violent offenders.”

The program would only apply to warrants for misdemeanors and non-violent felonies.

“To have those types of safe surrenders, protects the neighborhoods and innocent bystanders as well,” said Anna Ruszinski, U.S. Marshal for the Eastern District of Wisconsin. “It’s better for everyone.”

Ruszinski says they’re hoping to implement the Safe Surrender program in Milwaukee this year. Learn more on their website.

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