The issue of rising crime is sometimes neglected in the discussion around police-community relations. But it’s a problem we must face in Wisconsin. Milwaukee is one of the worst cities for violent crime in the nation. Neighborhood Scout reports that your chances of becoming a victim are 1 in 74. Since this time last year, the Milwaukee Police Department reports there have been 172% more car thefts–that’s 8,433 cars stolen this year as of October 19th. Nearly every other kind of crime is up too: aggravated assault is up 10%, theft is up 22%, and robbery is up 6%.
When I talk to members of the police force, they tell me they can make arrests, but they can’t bring charges. The DAs are not charging. Instead, they take a “catch and release” approach. A recent story in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel confirmed this, reporting that the Mayor Barrett said, “only 2% of vehicle thefts result in prosecution.” If people know they can get away with theft without consequences, what is holding them back? We must be tougher and ensure those who commit crimes are held accountable.
Our current elected officials make this logical step towards safety a low priority. I can’t do that. Crime hurts our community, in both obvious ways and in unseen ways. When cars are stolen, people can’t get to work. When they can’t work, they can’t pay their bills. When they don’t pay bills, our economy suffers. That’s not even to mention the personal stress that comes from falling victim to a crime.
To bring Wisconsin back stronger, we need safer cities where companies want to invest and feel confident in gaining a return on those investments. While the Lt. Governor doesn’t have direct control over criminal charges, I will use my voice to bring attention to this issue and work towards solutions that benefit our state.
Our system can’t be completely lacking in accountability, and I think ensuring those who commit crimes are charged is the best first step towards solving the problem. I also think we need to consider what it means to fight crime before it happens by building strong communities. Communities that provide job opportunities, good education, and, most importantly, allow families to flourish. Statistically, crime increases with fatherlessness. Any approach to safety must recognize this. We must protect the family and defend it from those who want to reduce its importance. That means many things, from ensuring parents have a say in their child’s education to encouraging people to work.
The relaxed approach we are currently taking is clearly not working. My conversations with those on the police force and others involved in law enforcement have been so clarifying, and I’m ready to have more. I want to hear the solutions and insights you have. As Lt. Governor, I will be committed to making sure this issue is a priority and encouraging law enforcement to work towards a potential solution.