United States Senator Herb Kohl is waiting for a report from U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales after he studies the violent crime increase in Wisconsin's largest city and what can be done about it.
Governor Jim Doyle says Milwaukee needs more cops on the streets, better jobs, more attention paid to young people, and to encourage education and strong families. “They've got to have good recreational opportunities so they could be doing productive things instead of being out on the streets; they've got to have good schools. Most importantly, for many this is tough, you know, but we all know that a good family is the best possible thing for a child to be growing up in a loving and disciplined setting.”
Senator Kohl (D-Mke) says the Bush Administration has slashed federal funding for crime prevention and law enforcement programs and shifted those resources to fight terrorism. The number of homicides in Milwaukee had decreased from 130 in 1996 to just 88 in 2004. But, according to the FBI, homicides went up in 2005 by 40% — the largest increase in the nation.
Doyle says those numbers went down again last year (in 2006). “At the beginning of the summer where there were a couple of very bad incidents in Milwaukee I did step forward and the state helped out with overtime to make sure we could get more police on the streets. And, fact is, we've actually have seen now a significant decrease in the number of homicides in Milwaukee from the year before so I think just that added police presence makes a big difference.”
Although it's true Milwaukee's murder rate went down 14%, the number of non-fatal shootings did go up by about one-third. Kohl says years of funding cuts in the COPS program have led to fewer cops on the beat and increases in violent crime. The Attorney General's office indicated that a report would be completed by March.
Last month Time magazine featured an article on Milwaukee's crime rate.