AG candidate Eric Toney advocates for DOJ to manage prosecutions in Milwaukee to tackle rising crime

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) – An overnight police chase and fatal shooting in a busy area in downtown Milwaukee has Republican attorney general hopeful Eric Toney is advocating for the state to handle prosecutions in the city in an attempt to crack down on violent crime.

Toney, Fond du Lac County’s district attorney, is looking to unseat incumbent Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul.

On Tuesday, Toney proposed having the Wisconsin Department of Justice oversee prosecutions in Milwaukee after a man suspected of homicide late Friday led police on a car chase and then opened fire at officers on Water Street.

Police returned shots and killed the 47-year-old suspect, Ernest Terrell Blakney. A 22-year-old woman from Hudson was also shot in the crossfire and was taken to the hospital with non-life threatening injuries, according to police.

“If we protect Milwaukee, we will protect all of Wisconsin,” said Toney at a press conference held within feet of the recent fatal police shooting. “That is why I have advocated for granting our attorney general original prosecution authority in Milwaukee so we can take on the crime they are unable to.”

Giving the DOJ more oversight in Milwaukee is a concept Kaul doesn’t oppose, but in an interview he said he prefers those resources be spread out across the state.

“There's no need to limit that just to Milwaukee,” Kaul said. “I think anywhere our Department of Justice can play a bigger role in making sure we protect public safety – we should be doing that.”

City leaders have proposed increasing the sales tax by 1% to help boost revenue to pay for essential services such as law enforcement and the fire department among other things. Toney did not say if he would support that. Instead he blamed his opponent, Kaul, and Gov. Tony Evers for not investing federal Covid-19 relief aid to bolster the Milwaukee Police Department.

Toney also floated using a position of the state’s projected $5 billion surplus. However, that money is likely to go untouched as Republican lawmakers plan to wait until next year to spend it.

“We have a budget surplus and that's going to be an issue the Legislature is going to have to address, and I’m going to work with them to make sure Milwaukee has those resources,” Toney said. “The governor has the ability right now, with American Rescue Act funds, to help put more money into Milwaukee.”

Kaul fired back, arguing one-time ARPA funds won’t be a long-term solution to aiding police departments. He also blamed lame duck laws passed by Republicans before he took office for rejecting millions needed in his department.

Kaul has also tried to convince lawmakers to pass his $115 million legislative “Safer Wisconsin” package that aims to reduce crime and invest in communities. It would use a portion of the state surplus to fund police, violence prevention and treatment programs. The package of bills never received a committee hearing and has yet to gain support from GOP leaders.

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