League of Women Voters Statement on Police Department Budget and Money Reallocation
Milwaukee- The League of Women Voters of Milwaukee County joins civic coalitions in pressing Mayor Barrett and the Common Council to reduce the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) budget and the scope of MPD’s responsibilities while reallocating resources to provide urgently needed social services to the City. The League urges bold action recognizing the socioeconomic disparities suffered by people of color, now magnified by the disproportionate impacts of Covid-19 on these very communities. The League relies, in part, on studies from UWM Professor Marc Levine which found that Milwaukee rates among the very worst cities for Black people to live “on virtually all key measures of Black community well-being…” These exigencies must be reflected in the budget.
The current state of affairs is intolerable and demands big thinking from our city’s leadership.
The League applauds the recommended 10% reduction in the 2021 MPD budget and encourages Mayor Barrett and the Common Council to:
- Listen to community voices as expressed to the Community Collaborative Committee and by LiberateMKE. Elected leaders should pay attention to the expertise of the Office of Violence Prevention and its Blueprint for Peace.
- Support and fund the Community Collaborative Commission to help it achieve its goals including partnering with MPD to co-create a Community Oriented Policing Standard of Practice policy and strategy.
- Create a comprehensive community safety plan with citizen input examining responsibilities historically belonging to police and determine whether these services are better provided by unarmed civilians. The CAHOOTS model from Oregon State is now a recognized model.
- Provide adequate funding and support to the Fire and Police Commission so that it has the necessary resources and staff to function efficiently.
- Assess the need for and uses of military-type equipment and tactics, especially as used against peaceful protesters.
The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan grassroots organization that encourages citizens to advocate for better government and for public policies that serve the common good. The League’s Police Practice and Standards Committee was formed to study issues related to the best police practices being implemented nationally to enhance public safety.