Tom Barrett, the mayor of Milwaukee, went on video yesterday talking about the alarming rise in violent crime within Milwaukee. In the very next sentence, he then talked about his proposal to drastically reduce the police budget.
Barrett says "we have seen dramatic increases in homicides and non-fatal shootings in our city this year after 4 years,... after 4 consecutive years of decreases" and then goes on to say "There will be changes in the police department; the budget authorizes 120 fewer positions."
The 2021 budget for Milwaukee, which has just been released, includes a proposed hiring freeze for the police department, until its size has been reduced by 120 personnel.
Meanwhile, homicides in Milwaukee are more than double from this time last year, rocketing from 65 to 134. The mayor also admitted that last year, there were 173,000 calls to the Milwaukee police.
Barrett commented in his address, "We all recognize that we are living in very uncertain times, and as a result, this is going to be the most sobering budget we have worked on together. 2020 has emerged as the year when our budget challenges have reached a crescendo. We knew the 2021 budget would be problematic even before COVID-19 and the ensuing economic hit. Now, the challenge is much more severe. We cut salaries by $8.5 million; but, police healthcare and other personnel costs have risen and chewed up those budgetary savings. Officer fringe benefits will climb six percent in 2021."
While some people are not happy with the freeze and are planning on voting with their feet, for others the move is not nearly enough, and they want to see deeper cuts to the police department.
"If it has to be: salaries are cut by whatever means necessary, and we know there's a lot of work to be done around union contracts, there's only so many things us as community organizers can tackle at a time. But whatever it takes, we have to make sure that we get the investment to where people who pay their tax dollars each year say they want their money to go. To not listen to us is a slap in the face," local activist Markesa Tucker told Fox News.
The budget is subject to further change until the end of October and subject to a public hearing on October 6th.