Madison is mirroring Milwaukee in a way police don't like: seeing more and more young black men with guns. Madison Chief of Police Noble Wray wants to stop the trend. “That is the state of affairs here in Madison and the state of affairs across the state of Wisconsin,” said Wray. “Look at . . . the homicide database in the Milwaukee Journal. You will see a long list of African Americans shot. I think we need to raise the consciousness on that.”
It's a state of affairs that led to Madison's first homicide of 2009. Police say 17 year old Karamee Collins was fatally shot with a stolen handgun. Police don't believe Collins had any gang affiliation, but the two 16 year-old suspects they arrested did have gang ties.
Wray says the community has a role to play. “We're going to have to challenge that 'no snitch' culture,” Wray said. “We're going to have encourage on friends and family to put pressure on people that are possessing, not to possess those guns.”
“I'm reminded of programs that they did in some of the bigger cities, where they had young people come and exchange their guns for shoes or for something they cherished or looked forward to having,” said Pastor David Smith, who suggested that a similar strategy may work in Madison. In addition to the murder of Collins, the city has seen a rash of shootings in recent weeks, although police say the homicide was not related to those incidents.