Milwaukee’s police chief touts plan to stop violence in city: ‘Relationships are built on actions’

MILWAUKEE -- The first half of August has been marked by violence in Milwaukee -- 16 homicides in 20 days. On Monday, Aug. 20, Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales spoke about his plan to stop the violence.

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales

Chief Morales said technology (ShotSpotter) and personnel will be put into the anti-violence effort, which will also involve help from the community.

The chief said there is a cooperative effort between police and federal agencies to make arrests. There are weekly shooting reviews aimed at identifying locations and suspects -- and how to target them. The chief also said there are listening sessions with the community -- and last week, a special initiative began to make arrests.

"In less then a week, those assigned to that initiative have arrested 26 people for misdemeanor and felony firearm, drug-related and other assorted crimes. We have also recovered five handguns," said Morales.

Fatal shooting near 30th and Vine

Double homicide near 6th and Center

"The violent crime we have experienced recently -- with that -- we are bringing all the ATF resources to bear. We are banding with the Milwaukee Police Department. There's one partner we need to include in this already tremendous partnership. That is the public. The community. We are asking your help," said Joel Lee with the ATF.

Homicide at 35th and Clarke

Morales indicated when he took office six months ago, he promised to focus on re-establishing relationships in the city. He said he hopes to assign officers to smaller geographic districts -- so they get to know their areas and the people in them.

"I believe relationships are built on actions, not words," said Morales.

He said he is taking steps to reduce response time.

"I promised to send 100 officers back to the districts by June 1 and we accomplished that. This allows police officers to be more proactive and respond quickly. So far we've been able to decrease the median response time by six percent, but we can do better," said Morales.

Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales

37th and Oklahoma

The chief also touted the success of the reckless driving campaign waged by the Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office, noting the effort has netted 2,500 traffic citations.

"Pursuits are up 239 percent -- and non-pursuits are down 61 percent. Most importantly, fatal collisions are down 21 percent. I hope this means the word has gotten out about our enforcement," said Morales.

Chief Morales said for those who have not noticed the police department's initiatives, they will beginning Monday. A new series of billboards focusing on the department's pursuit policy are going up around the city.

Below is a breakdown of the 15 homicides in Milwaukee in August:

Shooting at 10th and Burleigh

Swing Park

Acting Milwaukee County Sheriff Richard Schmidt on Aug. 13 announced 10 tactical deputies will join Milwaukee police officers in high-crime areas, "working cooperatively" to "address the violence and illegal guns in the city." 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.

Reggie Moore with the Office of Violence Prevention said the city is following a long-term plan called the "Blueprint for Peace" to stop the violence. They are trying to prevent what happened in 2016, when there were 24 homicides in the month of August.

The Office of Violence Prevention scheduled "Community Safety Strategy Sessions." The second took place Aug. 22 at UWM. The first involved more than 100 residents, leaders and organizations who "discussed ways to address the recent string of violence." A news release notes "the city went four days without a single homicide on the north side following the first strategy session."

Ongoing outreach in neighborhoods most impacted by violence will continue throughout August:

We Got This Community Garden Summer Celebration
Saturday, Aug. 25
Borchert Field, corner of 9th and Ring St
9 a.m. – 12 p.m.

Stand for Peace
Saturday, Aug. 25
Tiefenthaler Park, 27th and Center St
5 p.m. – 9 p.m.

Heal the Hood
Sunday, Aug. 26
Moody Park, 24th and Burleigh St
12 p.m. – 6 p.m.