Walker and state republicans fall short on public safety
Deadly violence in Milwaukee streets disrupts communities in every corner of the city.
Families who have lost loved ones to senseless violence have cried out to law enforcement and local officials demanding help.
According to Forbes Magazine, Milwaukee is the 10th most dangerous city in the United States, with a crime rate of 1,295 per 100,000.
We’re barely into the last year of Governor Scott Walker’s first term, but it’s already abundantly clear that Scott Walker’s backward approach to public safety has not changed since his days as Milwaukee County Executive.
Back then, Scott Walker took chunks out of Milwaukee’s public safety budgets and allowed dozens of funded positions to go unstaffed even as he lauded the importance of public safety in Wisconsin’s largest city.
Milwaukee’s ShotSpotter program, which allows law enforcement to efficiently and accurately trace and respond to gunfire, is the latest casualty of Walker’s budget-slashing frenzy.
ShotSpotter has a proven track record of success. In June 2013, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that between May 23 and May 27, the system detected 54 incidents, a 30% reduction in detected gunfire since the program’s 2012 Milwaukee launch.
In spite of this, the Republican- controlled Joint Finance Committee upheld Governor Walker’s decision to reject a community policing grant for $445,000 to expand ShotSpotter during the 2013-2015 budget approval process.
In the wake of the decision, Police Chief Edward Flynn accused Walker of attempting to turn Wisconsin’s lagging economy around by facilitating the decline of the state’s biggest city.
In typical fashion, Walker spokesperson Jocelyn Webster responded to Flynn’s words by providing lip-service to the issue, calling the governor a friend to taxpayers whose goals are set on improving the quality of life for the people of the city.
Joint Finance Committee co-chair Senator Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, also attempted to reaffirm Walker’s motivations, claiming that the rejection was motivated by a desire to create jobs.
The Walker administration’s rhetoric simply doesn’t match reality.
Today, crime continues to plague Milwaukee’s neighborhoods, while job growth lags well behind the national average.
Last week, Republicans’ fervent defense of Walker’s decision to undercut ShotSpotter seems to have vanished.
In what can only be described as a sudden change of heart, the Assembly committed to match Milwaukee County’s $175,000 funding of the program.
While any amount of money toward ShotSpotter represents an important step toward a safer Milwaukee, the agreed-upon sum falls nearly $300,000 short of the original request.
As city blocks and neighborhoods in Milwaukee continue to go unprotected due to a lack of funding, Scott Walker and state Republicans should make a true commitment to public safety and turning things around for the largest economic engine in the state.