Abele’s Parks policing plan, by the numbers

MILWAUKEE –

Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke and Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele are two Milwaukee leaders with a history of not seeing eye-to-eye. This week, the controversy has been the issue of who patrols Milwaukee County Parks. This, after Abele announced his County budget calls for the Milwaukee Police Department to patrol the parks, vs. the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office.

The new parks’ policing plan is the first major County/City initiative in over a decade. Under a negotiated agreement, the Milwaukee Police Department will formally assume policing duties in 2013 at County Parks in the city of Milwaukee. That includes the entire lakefront.

Milwaukee police will also handle cellular 911 calls made in the city of Milwaukee. That apparently eliminates the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office taking the calls and transferring them to Milwaukee.

Abele and Barrett say the agreement ensures the community will get better service in the Parks, the city will be compensated for their officers’ time in the Parks and the County will get increased transparency, save tax dollars and be assured that tax dollars allotted for Parks patrol are spent on Parks patrol.

Thursday, Sheriff Clarke called Abele a liar — saying Abele’s plan won’t save the County any money.

Sheriff Clarke told FOX6 News on camera and via a statement Thursday Abele is lying about the plan to pay the City of Milwaukee $1.6 million to patrol County parks — a plan Abele says would save the County well over $1 million.

Sheriff Clarke argues Abele is giving the city a higher amount than Sheriff Clarke currently receives for park patrols. In a statement, Sheriff Clarke said Abele eliminated his entire budget of $3.3 million for parks patrol last year, but that it was the County Board that restored it to $1.4 million.

“He wants to pay the City of Milwaukee $1.6 million for park activity, but there’s only $1.4 million in the budget now for me to do it. How is that saving money?” Sheriff Clarke said.

FOX6 News asked Sheriff Clarke and County Executive Abele for documentation of last year’s budget. According to Abele’s budget numbers, $1.4 million is about what he wanted to cut — leaving the Sheriff’s budget for parks patrol at $1.7 million.

Abele’s numbers also showed the County Board restored that funding to a total of just under $3.3 million.

Sheriff Clarke’s spokeswoman said the paperwork they sent supported Sheriff Clarke’s argument, but all it showed was the cut of $1.4 million.

“I think the best measure for statements like that is the numbers, the facts and the outcome. This saves money for taxpayers,” Abele said.

This week, several Milwaukee County supervisors complained they were blindsided by Abele’s parks proposal. Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic said she didn’t have a chance to review it.

According to paperwork obtained by FOX6 News, a log of communication shows Abele’s staff reached out as early as September 19th through phone calls and emails, requesting a meeting with three Board members before Abele’s scheduled news conference with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

Abele said only one supervisor found a time to meet with him.

“This shows the lack of collaboration with the County Executive and the County Board. If you want to talk to someone about a big deal, you’ll find them, you’ll get a hold of them. The mayor was able to get a hold of leadership in the Common Council,” Dimitrijevic said.

Alderman Michael Murphy said Mayor Barrett requested to meet with him and Common Council President Willie Hines on September 17th, and that meeting happened the next day.

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