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Increase in crime leads to officer shortage in Greenfield

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GREENFIELD, Wis. (CBS 58) – Crime is on the rise in some Milwaukee suburbs and one city has stopped responding to certain calls because they don’t have enough police officers.

The low number of officers in Greenfield is a product of cuts made several years ago during the recession. As the number of officers has gone down, the crime rates have gone up.

 Bordering Milwaukee on two sides, violent crime and police chases are spiking in Greenfield.

“The problems that the City of Milwaukee experiences are the same thing we experience,” said Chief Brad Wentlandt.

The Greenfield Fire Chief says they don’t have the officers they need to fight crime the way they want to with 57 sworn officers. The Chief says Greenfield has fewer officers than any other similar sized city in the state.

“Our calls have gone up 20 percent but were doing that with the same amount of personnel we had 5 years ago,” said Chief Wentlandt.

It’s also preventing the city from responding to some low-priority crimes like gas drive-offs and some retail thefts.

“We need more officers to keep afloat and keep our wonderful response times and handle the crime our city gets,” said Greenfield Ald. Linda Lubotsky.

Alderwoman Linda Lubotsky is behind the push to get more sworn officers. The city’s finance committee is now considering a referendum so taxpayers can decide if they want to spend the money to hire more officers. The goal is to maintain a department that is proactive and not reactive.

“Fewer available police officers means it takes time away from the officers doing outreach. It takes away from National Night Out and the outreach that we do,” said Ald. Lubotsky.

“We’re really at a critical point right now here. We just do not have the personnel,” said Chief Wentlandt.

Alderwoman Linda Lubotsky says the Fire Department is also experiencing staff shortages. Chief Wentlandt says he would need 12 more officers to get to full staff. The referendum, if it comes to that, will likely happen this fall or next spring.

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