Safe Streets Milwaukee
Launch news conference
Mayor Tom Barrett
December 2, 2006
The holiday season is a time of hope and faith and that's why today, it so appropriate to be here at New Covenant with people who have hope for the future and faith in our ability to join together and stem the tide of senseless violent crime.
We have to step it up Milwaukee. We have neighborhoods and families in crisis. We know the challenges – everyone here is working hard to address them and, a lot is being done.
This year I have put the largest increase in the police budget in over a decade, to create the largest sworn strength of the police force since 2000. I've added 45 additional officers, funded a community service officer program and police specialists that will put even more police back out on the street fighting crime.
Just this week I joined with MPS to launch a school safety initiative.
We're putting cameras in high crime areas
The Curfew is being enforced.
Governor Doyle answered my call to assign more correction officers to Milwaukee and to place them strategically in high-crime areas in partnership with other government and social service agency resources.
We have Community Prosecutors in Police Districts – thanks to the DA and City Attorney.
We have the US Attorney, FBI, Bureau of Alcohol and Tobacco and the Milwaukee Police Department actively working together to combat crime and gangs and illegal guns.
We have a new Southside Weed and Seed effort – another example of how the City, the US Attorney's Office, Milwaukee police, community groups and area residents have joined together to tackle crime, undertake home improvements and restore the Clarke Square neighborhood.
We have the community organizers working door-to-door through many neighborhoods and churches and community groups throughout the City are dedicated to improving the quality of life for our residents. Organizations like CYD, Project Ujima, Harambe, UCC and the Latino Community Center.
Despite our efforts, Milwaukee – like many cities across America – is seeing an increase of violence in neighborhoods. We need to step it up.
Today I am announcing the "Milwaukee Safe Streets" Collaborative. The Collaborative will address five objectives and the first one is key to our success.
- We must strengthen our ties to the faith community. Rev. Fred Crouthers, Pastor Marty Calderon and others have led by example. Bringing in the leadership and faith they and so many others have will strengthen our neighborhoods. We need to fully engage the faith community with our law enforcement, community partners and government agencies.
- We must reduce the impact of gangs and thanks to the U.S. Attorney we have been awarded a Safe Streets Milwaukee federal grant to attack the gang and gun problem. One federal grant isn't all that's needed. In order to get gangs off our streets, we're going to have to pull together, work together.
- We have GOT to get the Illegal guns – we need to find out where illegal guns are coming from and get them out of our neighborhoods, out of the hands of criminals and away from otherwise good kids.
I'm going back to the state legislature next year to implore them to enact responsible gun legislation. And I intend to go back to Madison with clergy, community workers, block club members, hospital emergency room staff, public health providers, activists and business people.
Gun violence is a public health issue. I will continue to work together with Milwaukee Health Commissioner Bevan Baker and the Medical College to address ways we can tackle gun violence in our community.
- If we are going to reduce crime, it has to be done block-by-block. We are going to target neighborhoods in police districts and harness the resources that clergy, community partners and law enforcement can bring to restore safety and stability. I am going to look to every resident and business to work together with us on this.
- We have to maximize existing resources. Just look who's in church today – the U.S Attorney, the DA, the Milwaukee Police Department, ministers, community workers and concerned citizens and neighbors. And although they could not be with us today, we are pleased to be forging new partnerships through the Downtown Rotary Club, whose members are forming a workgroup to develop employment strategies for individuals being released from state correctional facilities.
In Milwaukee we receive grants like the one that is making this initiative possible because of a need, but also in recognition for our will, our demonstrated ability, and the existing coordination to get things done. We can leverage those resources and that expertise to strengthen our collaborative.
With a grant of $2.5 million from the U.S. Department of Justice Project Safe Neighborhoods, we are going to put this initiative into action with best practices that can be shared throughout the city.
We need to step it up Milwaukee. I need every church and every resident, every community organization, social service provider, every block watch, every business owner, who has been a part of this fight to step up their efforts. And those who have not yet felt the call for something more to be done, I need you too.
Law enforcement and government cannot do it alone. We need to build stronger coalitions and increase our coordination. We need to share information and new ideas.
In February, I am going to host the first "Safe Streets Milwaukee" Collaborative meeting.
This will provide a forum for ministers, neighborhood organizers and others to meet with law enforcement and government entities to share information and strategize on how best to implement the five objectives.
There is no one magic pill that will cure the challenges we face. We're going to have to step it up, we're going to have to commit ourselves to a sustainable effort.
I want to thank you all for being here today, now let's get back to work!