Barrett defends himself missing law enforcement recognition ceremonies

CREATED May 17, 2012

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  • Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. | Photo: TODAY'S TMJ4 HD

Click here to listen to John Mercure's interview with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

MILWAUKEE- Law enforcement officials are angered and looking for answers after Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett did not attend two separate law enforcement recognition ceremonies this week, including one that recognizes Milwaukee police officers killed in the line of duty.

On Tuesday evening, the Milwaukee police department held their annual Merit Awards Ceremony.  Mayor Barrett was scheduled to be at that event.  Organizers tell me he canceled so late that there wasn't even time to take his name off the program.  It was on the printed program that evening.

On Wednesday, the annual ceremony to honor the courage and sacrifice of law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty was held.  Organizers say Mayor Barrett said he would be there.  He wasn't.  Governor Scott Walker was there; Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn was there; Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke was in attendance; Attorney General JB Van Hollen showed up; Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm and Milwaukee Police Association President Mike Crivello were there.  Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett was not there.

I caught up with Mayor Barrett to ask him why he didn't attend the ceremonies.  He said he would need to check his schedule and get back to me.  I asked him how he could not know what he was doing Wednesday and Tuesday.  He claimed he didn't know his schedule.  "I was working. I was… I'll have to get back to you about the specifics," the mayor told me.

I also told him that I had heard from several members of the law enforcement community who were upset about his absence.  I asked him about the perception that fallen law enforcement officers were not a priority.

"I have been to hospital beds and grieved with families of officers," Barrett told me.  "And I've attended the fallen officer ceremony eight of the last nine years."

It is still unclear why he didn't attend this year's ceremonies.

On Monday, the Barrett for Governor campaign sent out a press release claiming that Governor Scott Walker was "spending more time on his political career than doing his job."  I asked the mayor about the press release and the fact that he was, in his words, 'traveling the state'.  He said that was different than Scott Walker traveling the state campaigning.

When we hear back about Mayor Barrett's schedule the last two days, when he missed the law enforcement ceremonies, I will let you know.