MADISON -- Allegations of misreported Milwaukee police crime statistics are now an issue in the gubernatorial recall campaign. Thursday, May 24th, Gov. Scott Walker criticized Milwaukee Mayor and Democratic candidate for governor Tom Barrett's leadership. Barrett fired back, saying Walker's former staff and associates are also being investigated for crimes.
Walker, holding the Wednesday's edition of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said he believes he had in his hands leverage on a new campaign issue.
"The mayor of Milwaukee said his single major achievement he's been running on in terms of success is that his leadership brought about a drop in the violent crime rate in the city of Milwaukee, and the facts as documented in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel report show that's just not true," Walker said.
A newspaper investigation showed that the Milwaukee Police Department misreported crime statistics - classifying hundreds of what should have been clear "aggravated assaults" as "simple assaults," and giving the impression that violent crime had decreased, when it actually appears to have increased.
"He's going to want to talk about crime, so you've got the perfect segue. You can say, 'while we're on the subject of crime, governor, can we talk about the allegations of crime in your administration, because I'm worried about those crime numbers,'" Barrett said.
Barrett said there's an irony in a governor with a former staff and associates who have been charged with 15 felonies to make crime a campaign issue.
"Shame on Governor Walker if he impugns the integrity of the beat cops of the Milwaukee Police Department because these are men and women who put their lives on the line every single day, and if they filled out those forms incorrectly, we will fix them," Barrett said.
Barrett said the Milwaukee Police Department has just undergone a voluntary audit, completed by the federal government, and the results will be released this month. Barrett said any problems will be corrected.
Meantime, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn says public safety shouldn't turn into political football. Flynn says the department will review the statistics internally, but the head of Milwaukee's Police Association says that's not enough.
'A proper investigation by an outside entity can bring that to light," Mike Crivello said.
The issue is sure to come up when Barrett and Walker meet in the first debate of the recall race Friday, May 25th.
FOX6 News is helping to sponsor the gubernatorial debate Friday night, May 25th at 8:00 p.m.
The Wisconsin Broadcasters Association will moderate the hour-long event.
The debate starts at 8:00 p.m., and will be broadcast on TV 6.2 — Channel 986 on Time Warner Cable and Channel 967 on Charter Cable.
The debate will also stream live at FOX6Now.com.