Arnitta Holliman removed as director of Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention

NOW: Arnitta Holliman removed as director of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- There was a major shakeup in Milwaukee City Hall Wednesday, Aug. 3, as Mayor Cavalier Johnson ousted the city's director of the Office of Violence Prevention.

Arnitta Holliman is out just 14 months after she was appointed to the position by former Mayor Tom Barrett.

Now with crime rates up this year, the city is looking for a replacement.

Despite redoubled efforts to prevent violence, Holliman's tenure had been fraught with rising crime rates and questions about the office's funding and effectiveness.

At an event Wednesday morning, Holliman was introduced to the crowd as the director of OVP and she said, "It's a pleasure to be here on behalf of the Office of Violence Prevention."

It would be her final public appearance as director. A few hours later Mayor Johnson's administration relieved her of her duties, writing the city will increase "the office’s responsiveness to changing demands and expectations in public safety."

On Wednesday Alderman Mike Murphy of District 10 said, "I think [Johnson] wants to be more concentrated on how he uses the resources. And targeted, I think he wants to make sure they’re evaluating to see if they’re effective."

Mayor Johnson was not available for an interview or comment Wednesday.

Holliman's ousting comes just a few weeks after some councilmembers - including Murphy- questioned the effectiveness of her office.

At the time, Holliman said, "OVP is consistently questioned on our work, and the importance of our work, the worthiness of our work in many respects, and if we should be funded or not."

In that June committee meeting, Murphy asked to see proof the efforts were working. He said, "In the final analysis, what we're looking for is do these programs work? If they're working, great. But if they're not working, then we shouldn't be throwing money at them."

So far this year the number of homicides and carjackings are far higher than at this point last year, and non-fatal shootings are virtually the same.

Holliman has long cited several social factors as impacting crime in Milwaukee, like poverty, jobs, and education. In May she told us, "Those are all of the things that go into what we see when we're looking at shootings. It's more than just someone shot someone, so it means that OVP is not doing their job."

OVP recently secured millions of dollars in ARPA funding: $8.4 million from the state and $3 million from the city.

The city's news release did not give a specific reason for letting Holliman go, but it did say "we want those new resources effectively deployed to make Milwaukee safer."

Murphy said, "Those dollars were not expended yet, so they're still to be released this year. So I think certainly the mayor will be putting his footprint on that."

Arnitta Holliman did not respond to calls and messages Wednesday.

In the news release the city said discussions are already underway to fill the position, and an appointment is expected in the coming weeks.

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