Governor Tony Evers has announced a $2.2 million investment in violence prevention efforts for the city of Milwaukee. This comes in addition to the over $100 million the governor has already directed to support violence prevention efforts, crime victims, and local and tribal law enforcement agencies. The funding will also aim to deal with the pandemic-related backlog of court cases by increasing public defender and assistant attorney support.
“Every family and every kid deserves safe communities to live, work, learn, and play in, and that includes the city of Milwaukee,” Evers said. “Violence is never the answer, and I am hopeful that today’s investment, paired with the more than $100 million investments we have made already, will give the city of Milwaukee some additional tools to curb crime and keep folks safe.”
The $2.2 million will reportedly go towards Milwaukee Police Department’s staffing resource needs, which include officer overtime costs, new equipment purchases, and the installation of remote-controlled security fencing that can transform downtown entertainment corridors into pedestrian-only zones during weekends and events. Mayor Cavalier Johnson has noted that they aren’t sure how the fence will work quite yet, but the hope is that it will curb reckless driving. “We want to be safe. I mean, you think about other communities across the country that have employed similar measures to make sure their downtown areas, their entertainment districts are safe, and that’s exactly what we’re exploring here in Milwaukee,” Johnson said.
Demands from several communities, however, ask that funds be moved from police investment to community program investment. This demand aims to reduce the harm caused by over-policing – predominantly affecting communities of color – while also targeting the true root causes of crime. In Milwaukee, demands were raised by groups such as the African American Roundtable through their LiberateMKE Campaign, speaking out against policing as the key to reducing crime, citing that people of color and other groups are being targeted, harassed, and even murdered by police. The group instead asked the city to invest in public health and affordable housing efforts.