Proposed Milwaukee Violence Prevention Plan Receives Mixed Reviews

Nov 21, 2017

After months of waiting, the City of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention has released its plan to combat crime. The proposal looks to tackle violence as a public health issue. But not all city leaders are convinced the plan is moving Milwaukee in the right direction.

The city’s violence prevention plan is called the Blueprint for Peace. It was officially unveiled late last week.

Reggie Moore, the director of the Office of Violence Prevention, shared details of the proposal with aldermen on the Public Safety and Health Committee on Monday.

“When you look at violence, there are things that obviously increase exposure based on your social network, area and neighborhood where you live, the type of behavior that you’re involved in, but there’s also protective factors around after school programs, employment, economic development that we have to invest in as a city,” Moore says.

The plan also includes suggestions for improving employment opportunities, and puts money into expanding the Ceasefire program, which is already underway in some neighborhoods. Ceasefire trains and pays insiders to stop gun violence before it happens.

Moore says the plan takes into consideration input from more than 1,000 residents. He says lowering the rate of violence in Milwaukee has to be community driven, but he also says the data make it clear that not everyone is equally impacted by violence.

With those things in mind, Moore says the plan focuses on 10 neighborhoods, eight on the north side and two on the south side.

Those neighborhoods include: Sherman Park, Harambee, Old North Milwaukee, Franklin Heights, Silver Spring, North Division, Amani, Historic Mitchell Street, Lincoln Village and Midtown. 

But not everyone is sure the blueprint addresses the true issues, or goes into enough detail about the proposal. Leaders behind the plan cannot yet put a price tag on the measure or say how much of a reduction in violence Milwaukee could see. 

“You’re asking us to adopt this proposal without fully understanding how much it’s going to cost and if we do get into this, and are spending money, we won’t know if it’s going to be successful or to what extent,”  Alderman Bob Donovan says. He chairs the Public Safety and Health Committee.

Donovan says his job is to adopt the best effort to lessen violence, not to blindly pass legislation.

Alderwomen Chantia Lewis, however, says she approves of the proactive approach that has been laid out. She says that instead of putting more money into the police force, it’s time to invest in prevention.

“We’re asking how much it costs to prevent lives from being taken.  Lives are priceless and if we looked at the graph that the homicide review showed us, black lives are the ones that are dying by the droves and the numbers are the highest. So I can’t even make my comments without saying black lives matter too,” Lewis says.

She says her goal isn’t to elevate one group of people over another, but says the statistics don’t lie. Lewis says that since she was elected to office in 2016, the city has spent around $300 million on police. She says if some of that money was put into prevention, Milwaukee would look different.

Leaders behind the violence prevention blueprint are hoping for a public private partnership, similar to one that's in place in Minneapolis.

Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton says the next step will be for him to introduce the legislation.