MILWAUKEE -- As the number of homicides in Milwaukee soars, city leaders are trying to get to the root of the causes in an effort to curb violence. The Public Safety Committee was presented with some shocking statistics about overall crime in our area.
The growing violence in Milwaukee is actually a national problem. Earlier this week, the Public Safety Committee called a special meeting which took about 4 1/2 hours. Nine different agencies talked about the possible causes, challenges and solutions.
"We have looked a holistic view of crime," said Milwaukee Alderman Terry Witkowski.
The Public Safety committee looked at crime in general and ways to improve conditions for people.
"We wanted the agencies present to think about what they are presently doing. What are they doing well and evaluate what they are doing and see if there is a different way to attack the problem," said Witkowski.
New statistics find the number of homicides in Milwaukee are up 11 percent compared to last year, the majority of them in District 7, 5 and 3.
Police say they're making arrests -- but then a different challenge comes up.
"So far, we've seized close to 1,300 firearms which is higher than any number since 2007. I think some of our challenge is really what happened to the offenders once they are subjected to the available penalties. I've said for the last several years, the penalties for firearm possession are the weakest I've ever seen," said Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn.
City leaders say other departments must help break the cycle of violence. The statistics say a majority of the homicides were argument or fight related and frequently among African-Americans in poverty-stricken neighborhoods.
"What we know is the outcome and life expectancy outcomes in terms of pre-term birth and social and emotional determinants access to healthy food and other conditions, simply put, are people are worse off in those areas, we know these leading indicators of poor health outcomes are connected to poverty and low educational attainment," said Milwaukee Health Commissioner, Bevan Baker.
Currently, the police department does have special programs and intensified efforts in those problem areas. And the city also has block grant programs to work on community building.
Meanwhile, neighborhood services focuses on things like building deteriorating which play a role in the issue.
City leaders are really looking at all ways they can make a substantial change.