Ald. Bob Donovan: Where's The Outrage, Milwaukee?
By Alderman Bon Donovan
While some may argue that we should aspire to emulate Chicago in certain ways, violence shouldn’t be one of them. We certainly had a red letter weekend in Milwaukee – 12 shootings and still counting. Where’s the outrage? Or has violence and dysfunction become the norm in certain neighborhoods?
I for one am not at all satisfied with the level of public safety in Milwaukee and neither should anyone else be. If anyone disagrees with me, all I can say is that we must subscribe to different standards. You see, I remember the Milwaukee that once was and it sickens me to see what we’re becoming.
Allow me to elaborate...
July has been a rather challenging month beginning with a very violent 4th of July weekend. We then had numerous shootings throughout the month resulting in several deaths. It’s actually become difficult to keep track of it all because one shooting seems to roll into the next.
Two weeks ago we had an out of control mob brawling in the middle of the day, resulting in a 17-year-old being shot. We also had several vicious home invasions on the south side culminating in robbery and rape, in addition to all the violence and heartbreak that this last weekend brought. Couple all of this with a completely out of control drug trade in Milwaukee, an increasing number of Milwaukee’s youth having little or no regard or respect for the police, ongoing human trafficking and rampant prostitution, street robberies and vandalism, and you end up with a crime rate, per capita, that is higher than New York City and Los Angeles!
The current number of police officers is so low that if you call 911 you can end up waiting hours for a squad (and this is for serious crimes like your house being burglarized, not for a cat up a tree). What’s worse is that there is no plan whatsoever for filling our ever increasing police vacancies. No plan – period. This administration seems more interested in crime stats than in the big picture. I could go on and on.
None of what I have stated should be considered as an indictment of our hardworking men and women of the Milwaukee Police Department. Given all the challenges they face, they are doing the best they can with limited resources.
While Milwaukee faces many challenges, restoring public safety has got to be priority one, for without it, nothing else positive can occur.
Let’s not lose sight of the fact that lives are being snuffed out here and all too often it’s the lives of young people (some of our victims have barely reached puberty!). Families are left devastated and residents are left in fear.
Has this kind of violence and loss become so commonplace that it has somehow become perversely acceptable? Have our standards really declined to such an extent?
All I could do is shake my head Sunday morning after watching the news and seeing the response of the mayor and Chief Flynn to this weekend’s devastating violence. They held a press conference and a street roll call. Does anyone really believe that these ever increasing stale roll call media shows accomplish anything? These displays do nothing more than allow the mayor and the Chief an opportunity to create the false impression that progress is being made. Two days later the neighborhood is back to business as usual.
During the press conference the Chief urged citizens to call the police when they see "trouble brewing." The reality is that those folks have already been calling but all too often their concerns are met with a less than stellar response on the other end of the line. Citizens are often given the third degree, and after all that they are told that there are no squads available or their issue doesn’t sound that serious and they should call back if things escalate. Two or three responses like that and it’s easy to see why people get discouraged and stop calling.