‘We’re talking about people’s lives:’ Milwaukee sees drop in homicides, non-fatal shootings in 2018

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Homicide near 70th and Bobolink -- December

MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett along with members of the Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee Fire Department and Office of Violence Prevention talked on Sunday, Dec. 30 about a decrease in homicides and non-fatal shootings in the city in 2018.

A Milwaukee Police Department spokeswoman confirmed for FOX6 News in an update on Tuesday, Jan. 2 there were 100 homicides in Milwaukee in 2018, and 475 non-fatal shootings.

The mayor, who was standing beside a chart, said the trends are clear. From 2011 through 2015, there were steady increases in the number of non-fatal shootings. Since then, the numbers have been dropping. In fact, there was a 17 percent decrease in homicides in 2018 -- and a 19 percent decrease in non-fatal shootings.

"Five out of every six shootings in the city of Milwaukee are non-fatal, and that has much to do with the quick response and expert life-saving medical care," said David Votsis, deputy chief with the Milwaukee Fire Department.

As of Dec. 19, there had been 97 fatal shootings and 461 shootings in 2018 -- down by about 23 fatal shootings and 100 total shootings from 2017. Still, the year was filled with spurts of violence and tragedy. Fourteen people were killed in the first 14 days of August.

Mayor Tom Barrett

"We don’t want to get caught up in numbers because numbers can be very deceptive. Numbers can be very cold and very analytical -- and we’re talking about people’s lives," Barrett said. "You can never take those lives and put them simply on a graph."

The mayor gave credit for the decrease in this gun violence to the Milwaukee Police Department, Milwaukee Fire Department and Office of Violence Prevention, which Barrett said is "treating violence as a public health issue."

"It is impossible for us to ever hire enough police officers, enough firefighters to be at every single altercation that you have," Barrett said. 

Homicide at 35th and Clarke -- August

"We look at the underlying issues in the neighborhood. We talk with the Office of Violence Prevention and give them recommendations where to go and how to address certain problems," said Steven Caballero, assistant chief with the Milwaukee Fire Department.

The mayor said the budget for the Milwaukee Police Department is roughly $300 million -- larger than the property tax levy for the entire city.

Reggie Moore

"We need to build the trust between the community and the police department," Barrett said.

"Today is a reflection of what it really takes as a community to continue to see progress in this area," said Moore.

Moore attributed the success to the city's allocation of $2.5 million to the cause, and pointed out that his office has worked with the community -- and identified in 2016 six goals and 30 strategies to address gun violence. He said his office continues to strive to reach those goals.

Sandra Parks

"We have to live in a city that thrives," Moore said. "Attending the funerals of children such as Sandra Parks, is extremely not only traumatic to the community and to that family, but it's traumatic to us as a city."

Mayor Barrett ended his news conference with a call to action for 2019.

"My request is to the citizens of the city, and that is to please be engaged. Talk to your sons. Talk to your nephews. Talk to your grandsons, in particular, and let them know, no matter what the dispute is, you do not resort to violence," said Barrett.

Mayor Barrett said he called out men in particular because the large majority of the shootings involved men. He said illegal gun sales are also a big issue -- one he plans to tackle further in 2019.

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