Public Safety Plan Ignores the Community
Aldermen should work harder to consult residents and target underlying causes of crime.
Milwaukee residents are being given opportunities to weigh in on the city’s public safety issues. Sadly, this plan is not a venue to address societal underpinnings of crime and poverty that has plagued Milwaukee since deindustrialization.
Alderman Bob Donovan said, “this plan is not this venue for suggestions around the need for jobs and youth development, but to improve policing and the criminal justice system.”
But how can you share ideas and feedback around a Public Safety Action Plan without addressing and taking action steps on some of the city’s greatest issues and needs?
I attended the first Public Safety Committee listening session on Saturday, Oct. 8 at Morse Marshall High School, on the city’s far northwest side. I was not surprised to see a room of no more than 35 or so residents. I believe residents do care about public safety issues, but just may have not been engaged.
If these listening sessions are going to be effective, the information must reach the individuals that this public safety plan would affect most; young people, people of color, especially black males, business owners, and the community as a whole. My concern has always been that the right people would not know about the listening sessions and not have an opportunity to weigh in on public safety issues. So I’ve asked the aldermen who were present that Saturday about their efforts to turn out residents.
Alderman Jose Perez, who’s helping to host a listening session at South Division High School on Saturday, Oct. 22 said that in his district he was working with community-based organizations, community organizers, and neighborhood associations. We will see how his efforts pan out. But it appears Alderman Chevy Johnson, who also replied, appear to not have, taken steps to actually canvass the neighborhoods and reach out to churches, businesses and other organizations.
The Public Safety Action Plan states the problem that must be addressed before any of the other issues like joblessness, housing issues, multigenerational poverty, breakdown of the family, widespread drug use, and a seriously challenged education system. But why would we continue to develop plans that are not addressing the issues that lead to public safety issues and concerns? Why would we keep addressing policing and the criminal justice system needs without at least considering a parallel plan to address the root causes?
The Public Safety Committee has two more listening sessions on the city’s southside, Saturday, Oct. 22 at 9:30 a.m. at South Division High School, 1515 W. Lapham Blvd and Saturday Oct. 29 at 9:30 a.m. at Pulaski High School, 2500 W. Oklahoma Ave.
Markasa Tucker, of Milwaukee, is a community activist and organizer and a mother of one child.