COP House program: 3 aldermen suggest rehabbing vacant homes for officers to live in

MILWAUKEE — Three Milwaukee aldermen have come up with an idea they say would improve public safety, and it involves refurbishing vacant homes that police officers would then live in.

This initiative is called the “Community Oriented Policing House,” or COP House and was announced Friday, September 1st by Alderman Tony Zielinski, Alderman Russell Stamper II and Alderman Bob Donovan.

According to a press release, the idea was first brought to Alderman Zielinski by Mike Crivello, the president of the Milwaukee Police Association, and a similar program is being utilized in Racine.

The aldermen said in the release this program “will reduce crime incidences and police call volumes.”

Here’s how it’ll work:

A vacant city-owned home will be renovated with the help of community partners. Police officers would then use the home as a base to police the neighborhood, build relationships with residents and identifying criminal activity while addressing socio-economic issues by connecting residents with area agencies for help.

The COP House will also be equipped with computers and staffed with educational partners who will offer a safe and accessible location for tutoring and educational advancement, the alderman said.

“This is a multi-step approach to addressing the crime and poverty issues in our neighborhoods. Showing up to a crime scene is reactive. This initiate is pro-active and gives our residents a chance to advance their education,” Zielinski said in the release.

“We need a new strategy for policing our neighborhoods.  Our officers would be a part of the neighborhood instead of only showing up once there is a problem. This program allows Milwaukee officers to build a relationship of trust with the community through regular communication,” Crivello said in the release.

Alderman Stamper and Alderman Donovan are offering their full support for the initiative — which is in its exploratory phase.

“The City of Racine rolled out a community policing program and has already shown great success with it. It’s a tried and true program, and it’s an ideal initiative for the City of Milwaukee,” Stamper said in the release.

According to these aldermen, the model for the COP House has reduced crime by up to 70 percent in some areas that are using the program. The criteria for the location of the COP House are crime, calls for service and nuisance calls.

“We’ve been waiting for the mayor to deliver a public safety plan. It was supposed to be unveiled last year and we’re still waiting. The good citizens of Milwaukee have been waiting long enough. It’s time to take matters into our own hands,” Donovan said in the release.