‘We have to be the change:’ Sheriff pledges 10 ‘tactical deputies’ in neighborhoods hit hard by violence

Acting Milwaukee County Sheriff Richard Schmidt

MILWAUKEE -- WestCare Youth Action Council in Milwaukee took action Monday, Aug. 13 as part of a "Community Call to Action of Peace, Kindness and More Love in Milwaukee," and later, Acting Milwaukee County Sheriff Richard Schmidt announced he's placing 10 "tactical deputies" in high-crime areas in Milwaukee. This, after 12 homicides in 12 days.

"I learned last night that an innocent 4-year-old child sustained multiple gunshot wounds due to the senseless gun violence plaguing Milwaukee," said Acting Sheriff Schmidt.

He said he's partnering with the Milwaukee Police Department to tackle the violence.

"I am assigning resources, our deputies from the sheriff's office to work in the neighborhoods most impacted by the violence," said Schmidt.

Meanwhile, those with WestCare Wisconsin walked through neighborhoods, handing out backpacks and gun locks.

"Make sure the guns are locked up from the little babies. We don't want them to get to them. We also want to stress the issue of how important it is to come and get a gun lock from WestCare Wisconsin," a WestCare representative said.

The plea to reduce gun violence in the city came after a violent stretch in the city. The latest homicide happened Sunday night near 10th and Burleigh. A man, 28, died from gunshot wounds -- and two boys, 4 and 14, were also injured as a result of the gunfire -- the 4-year-old seriously hurt. Investigators say an ongoing dispute led to the shooting.

"There should never be a shooting or incident of violence in this city without a response. This has been probably one of the most violent two weeks in the city this year, and two years ago was the most violent August in 25 years. We understand a lot of the violence happening in the city is based on retaliatory issues as well as arguments. Arguments are hard to predict. They're hard to contain. What we try to promote with the Office of Violence Prevention is a cultural medication. If you see a conflict happening in your living room, at your cookout, your block on social media, it is your responsibility to de-escalate the situation. We can't wait for a program. We can't wait for a grant. We have to be the change that we seek," said Reggie Moore with the Office of Violence Prevention.

Reggie Moore

Milwaukee Alderwoman Milele Coggs

"For whatever disagreements we may have with one another -- in our homes, on our blocks, and in our community -- none of them, none of them is worth a life. Today there is a mother that doesn't have the pleasure of dropping her child off at school or day care -- that has to sit up in a hospital, praying, that unlike his father, he lives," said Milwaukee Alderwoman Milele Coggs.

Anyone who is in need of a gun lock may visit WestCare at 335 W. Wright St. in Milwaukee. They will get that gun lock for free.

Meanwhile, Sheriff Schmidt pledged he will allocate 10 highly-trained, tactical deputies to the neighborhoods most impacted by the recent surge in gun violence.

"The violent criminal element must know that the sheriff's office and the Milwaukee Police Department are partnering and working together to stop this surge in violence," Schmidt said.

The sheriff said the deputies will be on the streets looking for individuals with violent felony warrants -- as well as looking for indicators of things that are going wrong.

"If you see something, you've got to say something -- real-time. You can't wait two, three, four hours, until it's too late. I need the community's help to make this effective," said Schmidt.