Milwaukee police union leader doesn't want officers patrolling parks

CREATED Oct 1, 2012

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MILWAUKEE- There is new opposition to a plan that would have Milwaukee police officers patrolling Milwaukee County parks.

The new worry comes from the union that represents the officers patrolling the streets and now maybe the parks.  That union believes officers are already over stressed.

Packing the parks may be coming to a season's end, but the debate over who should patrol the parks has just begun.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele wants Milwaukee police to take over park patrols from the sheriff's department.  The idea is in a proposal that's aimed at saving taxpayers' money.

"It absolutely puts them more at risk," says Milwaukee Police Association President Mike Crivello.

Such as the risk of more one man squads versus two.  The union is worried about picking up extra park patrols at a time when its 1,500 officers are also being asked to take three days of furloughs next year.

"If we are already over stressed can we truly take on a new responsibility," asks Crivello.  "I don't know if we can effectively do that and still offer an quality product to the community."

Not so says MPD spokesperson Anne E. Schwartz: "The implementation of furloughs will have no effect on our obligations to meet our daily minimum staffing levels throughout the department."

Park users are keeping an eye on the controversial debate.  Meg Lybeck Smoak doesn't feel strongly one way or the other about who patrols the parks -- but she wants safe parks.

"I think it is safe place and it needs be accessible to families throughout the city and surrounding area."

Changes to the park patrols and the proposed furloughs still need to be voted on by city and county leaders.