Acting Milwaukee mayor aims to maintain police strength, invest $5.5M in OVP in public safety plan

NOW: Acting Milwaukee mayor aims to maintain police strength, invest $5.5M in OVP in public safety plan

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- With candidates for Milwaukee mayor now in a sprint to the February primary, their plans for addressing one of the city's biggest challenges -- reducing violence -- will get a lot of attention over the next 34 days. 

Milwaukee Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson outlined his public safety plan on Wednesday, Jan. 12, at the Mitchell Street Library, surrounded by other city department heads. His goals center around investing in law enforcement and helping support the groups that stop violence before it happens.

"Let's not pretend that they're going to be simple solutions, because they're not. Implementation of my public safety priorities will require hard work and dedication. It will require innovative thinking and strong collaboration. To be frank, Milwaukee is in the midst of violence that is unacceptable and unsustainable," said Johnson at a news conference.

Johnson said after two years of record homicide numbers, he doesn't want to see the historical levels continue. He laid out his top three priorities to reduce violence and ensure safety:

  • Investigating in law enforcement 
  • Promoting community healing 
  • Supporting neighborhoods

"The last years' numbers in regards to homicides, non-fatals, are absolutely unacceptable. But more than one is always unacceptable," said Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman.

Johnson also wants to get the Fire and Police Commission back up to its full nine members, work to make the fire and police departments more diverse and distribute gun locks. He's advocating for recruit training and professional development for officers and firefighters on diversity, cultural sensitivity, use of force and mental illness.

He wants to work with state lawmakers to strengthen gun laws and ask the state for financial help to invest in the Milwaukee Police Department.

"It's my intention to make sure that again, the level of policing is stable so that we don't see these plummets in police officers' strength in the city," Johnson said.

The acting mayor called reckless driving the "number one quality of life issue" in Milwaukee. To help curb reckless driving, he wants to narrow roads and add protected bike lanes and curb extensions. He also vowed to invest $5.5 million in Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention through the federal American Rescue Plan Act funding.

"What's different from prior administrations is that this is something more than anything I ever saw in my 26 years in this particular department, of how we are being intentional in our conversations," Norman said.

City leaders acknowledge they can't accomplish these goals alone and need people to call Crime Stoppers when they see violence in their neighborhoods.

"They have an anonymous tipline to help crack some of these cases and increase our clearance rates on violent crime that happens," Johnson said.

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