MILWAUKEE — Multiple weekend shootings in downtown Milwaukee mark an unsettling trend in violence in the city's economic epicenter.
In two separate shootings, three people were injured and one was killed by police in the downtown area in Milwaukee Police District 1. It's an area that has seen a spike in crime over the last two years, according to MPD's crime map and statistics.
Not including this weekend's shootings, there have been 32 nonfatal shootings in District 1 this year; including 17 during one night after a Bucks game on Water Street. That's a 113 percent increase during the same time frame last year when there were 15 shootings by September 1. In total in 2021, there were 19 nonfatal shootings.
Homicides are on the rise as well in the District with three total in 2022. At this point last year, there were only two homicides.
"There are a number of things we're working on today, right now, to actively address issues around violence," Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson said. "We've made changes in the Office of Violence Prevention. The (Milwaukee) Police Department has to be commended as well. We work closely with police. It's not reported a lot, but crime is down."
While Johnson is correct, total overall crime is down 13 percent across the entire city compared to this same time frame last year. There are spikes in both murders and nonfatal shootings citywide. As of Sept. 1, 156 people have been killed compared to 124 at the same point last year. In total, there have been 28 fewer nonfatal shootings so far this year compared to last year (577 vs. 605), but a 25 percent increase in nonfatal shootings compared to 2020 (460).
"We need to work doing the things we're doing to keep crime down so we don't see the instances we saw this weekend," Johnson said.
"It takes all of us coming to the table," County Executive David Crowley said. "We're not going to see a quick fix. A lot of us are looking for it but it takes all of us really talking about this issue, talking to neighbors, talking to families about what we all need to do to step up when it comes down to preventing violence in the first place."
Crowley and Johnson spoke to TMJ4 News after President Joe Biden gave a speech at Laborfest. The speech, on the Summerfest grounds in Police District 1, touched on impacting violence in communities through increasing jobs and funding for first responders.
It coincides with an announcement last month when President Joe Biden unveiled the "Safer America Plan" which looks to invest $37 billion to impact violence across the country.
Mayor Johnson met with President Biden briefly Monday and says they did not discuss how Milwaukee would benefit from the "Safer America Plan." But Johnson pointed to the president's remarks as one key part of the solution towards making the city safer.
"You heard the president on stage talking about the importance of investing in communities and police," Johnson said. "It's not only police. He talked about manufacturing, family-supporting jobs. The culmination of those things makes communities safer."
Part of the "Safer America Plan" includes funding for 100,000 new police officers across the country. As of late May, the Milwaukee Police Department was down 222 sworn positions.