Gov. Tony Evers gives the 2022 State of the State address in the Capitol | Screenshot via YouTube
Gov. Tony Evers has allocated an additional $2.2 million to augment operations within the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD). The funds will be used by MPD to hire civilian contractors to provide activities like ballistic technology used to investigate gun crimes and processing sexual assault kits. By contracting out some of these activities, it is hoped that the department will be able to shift its resources to other operations.
Funds will also pay for overtime for officers, as well as security fencing downtown which can be remotely raised or lowered. This will apparently create pedestrian-only zones on weekends, and during major downtown events. Remaining funds will be used to purchase forensic work stations, night vision devices, air tanks, and an advanced ballistics analysis device for MPD.
The funds, which come from American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), come in the wake of over $100 million in funding to support violence prevention efforts, tribal law enforcement agencies, and remediating backlogs created by the pandemic. “Every family and every kid deserves safe communities to live, work, learn and play in, and that includes the city of Milwaukee,” said Evers. “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.”
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson praised the move by Evers. “With technology and expenditures for officers, Milwaukee will improve our crime reduction efforts,” Johnson stated. “This additional support fits well into our comprehensive public safety work.”
Rep. David Bowen also applauded the allocated funding in a statement. “It is no secret that our state’s largest city has been grappling with a spike in crime since the beginning of the pandemic, as have other communities across the state and nation, but under Gov. Evers’ leadership we know that he will do everything he can to keep our communities safe.”
Attention continues to focus on crime trends in Milwaukee, with a particular focus on homicides and shootings. The MPD is currently tracking 85 homicides in the city this year to date, after 193 homicides last year. Reckless driving and car theft has also remained a priority, with MPD instituting a new tow policy for accused reckless drivers earlier this month. Some local activists have voiced concerns that the large allocation of ARPA funds will fuel an over-reliance on the MPD.
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