Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service

Crime Drops 32% in North Side Neighborhood

"Comprehensive community effort" credited for two-year crime decline in Amani neighborhood.

The Ford Family enjoying their time at ‘drop-in’ at The Gill Family Resource Center at the Goldin Center. (Photo by Sue Vliet)

The Ford Family enjoying their time at ‘drop-in’ at The Gill Family Resource Center at the Goldin Center. (Photo by Sue Vliet)

Resident involvement and collaboration between local organizations and government agencies has caused a dramatic drop in crime in the Amani neighborhood during the last two years, according to the COA Youth & Family Centers, an organization in the heart of the inner city neighborhood.

Amani, a neighborhood from 20th to 27th streets and from Center Street to Keefe Avenue, had a 32 percent decline in crime since 2013, a much steeper decrease than the 10 percent decrease for the entire city of Milwaukee, data gathered by COA showed.

“This drop in crime didn’t happen by accident. It involved a comprehensive community effort. Residents got involved and the neighborhood developed a sense of empowerment,” said Tom Schneider, executive director of COA, which runs the Goldin Center, 2320 W. Burleigh St., within the Amani neighborhood.

Schneider credited several initiatives at the Goldin Center with contributing to a safer neighborhood, including expansion of youth and family programs and a new family clinic created by Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin and Marquette College of Nursing.

The opening of the Ethel Gill Family Resource Center by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation at the Goldin Center has also brought the community together with various programs and classes geared toward family and parenting, Schneider said.

“What we learned was that it takes a comprehensive effort to make significant change,” Schneider said.

With help from the Dominican Center for Women, 2470 W. Locust St., residents also played a part in reducing crime by creating the Amani United Neighborhood Association, organizing several block watch groups and mobilizing the neighborhood during cleanup efforts.

“We want people to engage in what is really happening in their community … we are doing a very good job at sustaining the neighborhood together,” said Arlene Patterson, president of the Amani United Neighborhood Association. “The association’s goal is to make people aware and get them out and involved and let them know that they mean something to their community.”

Amani saw assaults and burglaries slashed by more than a fourth, thefts cut in half and sex offenses down by a quarter, according to data from the city. The number of homicides, however, has remained steady with three or four annually in the neighborhood during the last three years, a statistic that frustrates neighborhood leaders including Patterson, whose son was killed by gunfire in 2006.

A sign hangs on a fence advertising the planned renovations at Moody Park. (Photo by Sue Vliet)

A sign hangs on a fence advertising the planned renovations at Moody Park. (Photo by Sue Vliet)

“The ‘no snitch, don’t tell’ (mentality) has screwed up Milwaukee…that’s why we have so much gun violence,” she said. “These guns are so plentiful and it’s terrible.”

Patterson said although there is a lot of work to be done to combat gun violence, she credits the Milwaukee Police Department with being a strong partner in the fight against crime in Amani.

“The department is having a really great impact on the neighborhood,” she said.

Neighborhood leaders look forward to a new Calvin Moody Park, which was once an eyesore and crime hub in the heart of Amani. Residents have worked with the Milwaukee County Parks Department on the $2 million park renovation project that includes a 3,000-square-foot community center, walking paths, lit basketball courts and a splash pad. The park is expected to be complete next fall.

“When residents know their voice counts, good things can happen. The Amani voice is just warming up,” said Sister Patricia Rogers, executive director of the Dominican Center for Women.

This story was originally published by Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service, where you can find other stories reporting on fifteen city neighborhoods in Milwaukee.

4 thoughts on “Crime Drops 32% in North Side Neighborhood”

  1. BT says:

    Stories like this one are ones that need to be promoted and disseminated to as wide of a group of MKE METRO area (not just city of MKE) residents as much as possible, to bridge what I see as a false and totally misunderstood divide in the metro area. Having grown up in Waukesha County and then living in MKE county for a long time, but still having many relatives in Waukesha County and spending considerable time there still as well.

    I see both sides of this, the side where some people (generally always white people living in the burbs-but that includes burbs in Milwaukee County AND even some parts of the city of MKE as well, parts of the city far from “the hood”) are fed the idea that the parts of the north side that have nearly all of the little dots on any widely available “murder map” are just cesspools of crime, drugs, corruption, etc. I vividly remember one otherwise functional and seemingly rational person saying once, this was at least a few years ago, that in those high crime areas, “everyone’s either selling crack or smoking it!” I told him that was far from the case and that there were a LOT of great people mixed in with the drugs and crime and that the honest truth was that these great people actually far outnumbered the ones causing the problems, but it was just that the ones causing the trouble made all of the noise and got all of the press. He’d give me a little on that point, admitting that there must be SOME good people here and there, but far from a majority. I told him to keep an open mind on that one at least, that someday the truth would get through.

    At the same time, the same type of misunderstanding-or I believe possibly purposely distorted picture-exists with perceptions of the counties that ring MKE County, or at least the ones now known as the “WOW Counties” a recently coined term that usually doesn’t carry the best connotation. From what many would have you believe (and interestingly, this is something I’d guess I’ve heard promoted 90 or 95+% of the time by other WHITE people!) once you cross 124th St heading west or County Line road heading north, you’re suddenly in an area where you could widely promote and hold a Klan rally and not only would no one object, many of them would gladly join in! Now, I’m by no means saying there’s zero racism in the “WOW Counties” (or MKE County for that matter either) but that is so far from the truth that it is a joke. Yet, this lie doesn’t just live on, it is actively promoted daily and as I said already, in my experience its usually promoted by white people, who are trying to further certain agendas.

    I thought it was interesting a couple of weeks ago when the JS prominently featured the nice story of how a north side family that had been devastated by health issues was saved from tax foreclosure (when the CITY takes their long time home, NOT a bank) by a variety of people. First, their neighbors (this was a black family in an area that’s nearly all black, so I’d assume the neighbors were mostly or all black people as well) pulled together and held rummage sales and other fund raisers to help them, but were still coming up short when several city of MKE officials (looked like a mix of white and black people) got together and one of them was able to get one of the execs from Securant Bank to loan this family the money to save them from tax foreclosure-at least for this year. A great story showing that the north side is much more (and much better) than just a cesspool of crime and waste.

    Yet, buried in that story was the additional (and I’d think very important) addition to the story that an anonymous donor FROM WAUKESHA COUNTY had contacted this family and was going to pay off their latest property tax bill! Again, this was from an ANONYMOUS donor, not even someone looking for some good press (which still would’ve been a good deed nonetheless) plus another note about the many other donations they received such as a $100 check from a woman also from Waukesha County.

    Just as we have known for a while now that we have a “military industrial complex” that profits greatly and really only survives on the scale it is on thanks to us being involved in one foreign conflict after another, I think we also need to realize that we also have a “racism and poverty industrial complex” that while it does employ many people who do truly have good intentions and work hard to get results and improve lives, it also includes another large group who actively promote racial divides that are either greatly exaggerated, or sometimes aren’t even there anymore at all!

  2. Casey says:

    BT I think that is just about the best and most accurate comment ive seen here.
    Thank you

  3. BT says:

    Thanks Casey!

    I’d also like to point out the comment of Ms Patterson, who lives this reality every day of her life and is literally putting herself out there as the face of this group trying to drive out the crime, which in nearly all driven by an EXTREMELY lucrative drug trade that’s killed many community leaders who got in the way of their business before AND who publicly thanks the MPD for their help and to contrast that to the for-profit race and racial divide hustlers (again, many of whom are white, this isn’t a veiled slam on the family of Dontre Hamilton, who I think deserved an answer much sooner than it took) and the same on the national level, where Al Sharpton is apparently on top these days, flying in on his private jet in between hosting his MSNBC gig which pays him a 7 figure salary, then jets back to NYC to tape the next nights show while living large and fully protected by his armed security entourage. Even former race hustling king Jesse Jackson (also part of the private jet set) made it here to MKE, apparently the Hamilton case wasn’t high profile enough for Sharpton though.

    Contrast that and the nonsense they spew these days, which to me sounds like little more than throwing a lit match into a large puddle of gasoline, to not only the incredibly profound words of MLK (who didn’t have a team of highly paid speechwriters behind him either) who gave some of the most moving speeches we’ve ever heard and who did make a LOT of people realize that things had to change, yet MUST have lived each and every day knowing it may well be his last! MLK had the FBI doing psy ops on him trying to get him to “suicide himself”, while Sharpton has been an FBI informant for decades, while he lives his gold plated lifestyle!

    To me, Ms Patterson is the continuation of MLK, while Sharpton and the rest of the promoters of the racial divide are simply selling out the same people they claim to be fighting for, no better than those who wrote the “suicide yourself” letters, NO BETTER!

  4. Bill Sweeney says:

    Anyone concerned about the persistence of crime in black neighborhoods would benefit from reading the new book by Jill Leovy called Ghettoside. She is a reporter for the LA Times. The book covers several murders of young black men and the dedicated work of several police officers to solve those crimes and why it is important. She also offers different layers of historical perspective that are very informative. It will quite likely win numerous prizes.

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