On the front lines of the mean streets of Milwaukee

CREATED Nov 11, 2013

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MILWAUKEE - On any given night in Milwaukee, the familiar sound of police sirens can be heard. The I-Team hit the front lines as crews tried to save those wounded in the plague of gun violence.

More than 455 people have been shot on Milwaukee’s streets so far in 2013.

“It’s sad when you don’t feel safe and secure in your neighborhood,” said Barbara Smith.

Smith lives in the Amani neighborhood in the police's fifth District - the district that has seen the most shootings citywide. One-hundred forty-five people have been shot in this one district from January through October of 2013. A total of 144 people were shot in District Five in 2012.

Milwaukee has seen 89 murders so far in 2013. Police said 80 percent of those killed were gunned down in the streets.

Neighbors like Smith have thought about moving out.

“You shouldn’t have to pick up and move from where you’ve been for years. We need to do something about the problem, moving doesn’t solve the problem,” she said.

So who is working on the problem? Church leaders want the city to implement a gun buyback program. Mayor Tom Barrett recently signed a budget that will add more than 100 officers to the streets. But they will need to be trained first.

The I-Team hit the streets overnight for a couple of nights, tagging along with MPD officers Torrey Lea and Brad Schlei. The first night the officers responded to call of 20 shots fired near 25th and Hadley. They pulled to the side of the road before preparing for a gun fight.

But by the time they arrived on scene the shooters were gone, but there was clear evidence of gun battle. The officers found bullet holes in one house and even a loaded magazine clip. But they did not get a single call from neighbors.

A different night the I-Team came across a guy bleeding on the curb. Someone shot him three times in the back. Teenagers were also found roaming the streets in the early-morning hours.

One 16-year-old walking alone near 27th and Center said he lost three friends, ages 15,17 and 18, to gun violence this year. They were all murdered, but he still placed himself in danger by being alone. 

“What’s going on with the parents? Why are the parents letting them out?” questioned officer Schlei.

Police say when kids roam, they tend to find trouble.

“It doesn’t necessarily have to be bad kid it could just be a bored kid,” explained Lea.

The officers gave this kid a lift home and dropped him off to his mother. She was unaware he was out on the streets. They hope at least that night they saved someone else from falling victims to the streets of Milwaukee.