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Mayor Cavalier Johnson speaks to reporters at the scene of a shooting in the Third Ward. (Photo by the Office of Mayor Cavalier Johnson)

In the face of rising crime, record homicides and streets increasingly seen as overrun with reckless drivers, Mayor Cavalier Johnson rolled out a new city strategy to address public safety on Wednesday, Jan. 12.

“Milwaukee can be – and will be – a safer city,” Johnson said. “Nothing is more important. I will direct – and I will support – every reasonable step to make Milwaukee a safer city.”

Johnson was joined by Police Chief Jeffrey Norman, Fire Chief Aaron Lipski, Office of Violence Prevention Director Arnitta Holliman, and community advocates including Reggie Moore, to roll out the new strategy. He described the plan as a “multifaceted and strategic approach.”

The plan outlines three pathways to a safer city: enforcing the law, prevention strategies and intervention with community healing.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson joins Chief Jeffrey Norman in rolling out a new city strategy to address crime. (Photo by the Office of Mayor Cavalier Johnson)

“This approach is the product of lived experience – including my own,” Johnson said. “In my neighborhood and in neighborhoods across Milwaukee, I have met with families impacted by crime. I know what they are feeling, and I know their desire to change the course of violence here.”

Johnson talked about the anger, frustration, and powerlessness he felt when his own car was hit by gunfire.

“I am so aware of the added trauma and grief of others who are dealing with violent injury or death,” Johnson said. “It is time for a different path to reduce violence – a path that includes added resources and a commitment to support the approaches we know will work.”

During the event, mayor fleshed out the elements of his plan.

“In law enforcement we need to maintain policing strength and, at the same time make sure the police department expands on its work to be fair, impartial and engaged with the community,” Johnson said. “We need to strengthen laws to keep guns out of the hands of those who should not have them. And we will push forward with community- oriented-policing.

Mayor Cavalier Johnson walks through the Mitchell Street neighborhood discussing public safety and economic development. (Photo by the Office of Mayor Cavalier Johnson)

“To stop violence before it starts, my priorities invest in the Office of Violence Prevention, where teams are on the ground supporting peace and healing,” he continued. “We are adding the largest investment ever – millions of dollars – into prevention. This provides the office with the support needed to continue the implementation the Blueprint for Peace. That especially includes expansion of the work to interrupt retaliatory violence.”

Johnson concluded by noting, “The Public Safety direction I am sharing today is especially focused on prevention. Unless we address the root causes of crime and violence, we will not have a safer city for a sustained period. My plan incorporates greater economic opportunities, partnerships, early childhood and family supports, and improving the physical environment to reduce crime.”

Johnson’s 10-page plan is available here 

Other candidates for mayor have put forward plans as well. Former Ald. Bob Donovan wrote a plan in 2016 and although not updated, it’s featured on his current website. Sheriff Earnell Lucas has four paragraphs here and issued this press release. Ald. Marina Dimitrijevic put out a graphic about reckless driving here. Sen. Lena Taylor’s website doesn’t mention crime specifically, and Michael Sampson’s website does.

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