Jeramey Jannene

Evers Awards $2.2 Million For City Policing

ARPA funds will aid Milwaukee's efforts to control crowds, curb violence in downtown bar districts.

By - May 23rd, 2022 04:38 pm
A Milwaukee Police Department SUV in downtown Milwaukee. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

A Milwaukee Police Department SUV in downtown Milwaukee. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

The State of Wisconsin will back the city’s efforts to control crowds and curb violence in the areas surrounding the Water Street and Old World Third bar districts.

Governor Tony Evers announced a $2.2 million allocation Monday from the state’s American Rescue Plan Act grant.

Issues with loitering and violence outside the bars became an issue in 2021 with multiple late-night shootings, but the urgency to address the problems grew dramatically on May 20 when 21 people were shot in three separate shootings.

The most recent funding announcement is designed to free up Milwaukee Police Department officers to be available to work in the entertainment district. It includes $400,000 for officer overtime as well as $1 million to hire civilian contractors to replace sworn officers working with sexual assault kit processing and ballistics testing.

In addition, $500,000 is being allocated to pay for remote-controlled security fencing that would be raised on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights to turn the area into a pedestrian-only corridor. A spokesperson for Mayor Cavalier Johnson said the fencing wasn’t a change in policy, but would replace the existing barricades used to close the streets and reduce the number of officers necessary to maintain the closures.

The remaining funds will be used to purchase equipment, including forensic workstations, night vision devices and on-scene ballistics analysis.

“Governor Evers has been a consistent partner in building a safer Milwaukee, and I appreciate this latest investment,” said Johnson in a statement. “With technology and expenditures for officers, Milwaukee will improve our crime reduction efforts. This additional support fits well into our comprehensive public safety work.”

Criminal complaints associated with the largest shooting, where 17 people were shot by at least four shooters, indicate two groups were circling the Water Street bar district, but does not suggest they actually entered any of the bars.

As a result of the shootings, Johnson and Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said MPD would begin to enforce a largely-ignored ordinance that children under the age of 17 must be off any public property or escorted by a guardian starting at 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Johnson also said food trucks parked near the downtown bar districts could be relocated to better control crowds.

The youngest individual arrested in connection with one of the three shootings was 19. Five of the 11 people arrested were under the age of 21. Victims’ ages ranged from 15 to 47. All of the shooting victims are expected to live.

“Every family and every kid deserves safe communities to live, work, learn, and play in, and that includes the city of Milwaukee,” said Evers in a statement announcing the latest grant. “Violence is never the answer, and I am hopeful that today’s investment, paired with the more than $100 million investments we have made already, will give the city of Milwaukee some additional tools to curb crime and keep folks safe.”

In March, Evers announced a $50 million allocation to community safety. It included a $20 million commitment to address a backlog of court cases and the expansion of other public safety programs in Milwaukee as well as a $19 million statewide allocation for communities with above-average violence levels. MPD received $3 million from the $19 million grant.

Evers announced a $45 million statewide allocation for violence prevention and victim support last October. The Milwaukee Health Department‘s Office of Violence Prevention received $8 million from that allocation.

Johnson had called for state support, primarily from the Republican-controlled Legislature, to address the surge in shootings.

“In this incident Downtown, the city’s system worked,” said the mayor at a May 17 press conference noting that arrests were quickly made and guns were recovered. He said those calling for more police also need to provide resources for the city to maintain its police force and to limit access to guns for individuals.

The city and its downtown stakeholders are also exploring options to address the issues.

Milwaukee Downtown, Business Improvement District #21 hired a nightlife consultant in 2021 to study options for the district. Representatives from Kansas City, Memphis and New Orleans presented their strategies in August to Milwaukee officials including metal detectors, age requirements and anti-loitering rules.

No major changes have been implemented in Milwaukee, but a large surface parking lot on the 1200 block of N. Water St. remains fenced off to deter loitering and prevent large crowds from forming. Portions of N. Water St. and E. Juneau Ave. are also regularly closed to motor vehicle traffic late on weekend nights. The city established a late-night no-parking zone around the bar districts in 2021 and aggressively towed violators in an attempt to disrupt loitering.

More about the Bar District Shootings

Read more about Bar District Shootings here

3 thoughts on “Evers Awards $2.2 Million For City Policing”

  1. unakmtt25 says:

    Why are the bars in the Entertainment District paying part of the costs of the security ? These businesses are the ones that benefit from these additional public funds. The neighborhood certainly does not benefit from the crime that these businesses attract.

  2. NieWiederKrieg says:

    Joe Biden just sent thousands of American troops into Somalia, Ethiopia, and Poland… Biden just bombed civilians in Syria… He bombed civilians in Afghanistan… He’s waging war against Russia, a peaceful country… Biden just threatened war against China… Every time Biden opens his mouth, he talks about war and killing people.

    Let’s impeach Biden and restore peace and prosperity for everyone.

  3. Colin says:

    How much of this will used for gun control? Oh right, none.
    Great, more money to cops to be used against POC & fill contractor’s/vendor’s pockets… terrific.

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