Milwaukee committee OKs ordinance requiring city workers to carry city-issued cellphones

Alderman Tony Zielinski

MILWAUKEE -- An effort to get cell phones in the hands of Milwaukee city employees who work in the field is on its way to the full Common Council.

The Finance and Personnel Committee voted on Wednesday, January 10th to recommend approval the ordinance. It would allow all city employees who work at sites other than municipal buildings to carry city-issued cellphones for city work. Alderman Tony Zielinski said it's a move aimed at increasing safety, but it will come at a cost.

Alderman Zielinski issued the following statement after the committee vote:

"It is vital for the city to be proactive in protecting city workers while they’re out working in the field, whether they feel endangered or need to report an emergency."

Zielinski said the proposed ordinance would impact nearly 1,000 city workers by providing them flip phones. He also shared the reason behind the ordinance; a city employee who died while on the job.

City inspector Greg “Ziggy” Zyszkiewicz was shot and killed in March 2017 while working on the city’s north side.

"My dad had an infectious grin. He would smile and that could change anybody's day," Zyszkiewicz's daughter Heather said Wednesday -- sharing pictures with FOX6 News of the family in Florida, where they just ran a race in Zyszkiewicz's honor.

"A bunch of us came out here and tried to be strong for him and we're trying to have his memory be a happy one and not the sadness that surrounds his death," Heather said.

The cellphone initiative would cost $70,000 in upfront fees, and then service costs in the following years.

"There's no guarantee with any initiative that all crime will be eliminated but we feel very strongly that this is a step in the right direction.

There are Common Council members with reservations about the proposed ordinance. Alderman Mark Borkowski said he's undecided; he said on Wednesday he still has questions especially about the cost.

District five Alderman Jim Bohl also said he was undecided on the matter. Alderman Cavalier Johnson, Robert Bauman, and Terry Witkowski said they support the proposed ordinance at this juncture, as do the bill sponsors which includes Alderman Russell Stamper II.

"We're going to continually look at ways to improve the safety of our field workers. This is merely one step in that direction," Zielinski said.

Zyszkiewicz's daughter said her father had a phone on the day he was murdered, and it didn't make a difference, but she said she wants to make sure what she and her family have experienced doesn't happen again.

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"Hopefully the city will learn from this because I never want to see this happen to another family. I never want another family this nightmare that we went through," she said.

The full Common Council will take up the city worker cellphone requirement file on Jan. 17.