Gov. Evers announces $2.2 million for downtown Milwaukee security and police investigative efforts

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Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, left,  is congratulated by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, right, at his inauguration on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 at the Harley-Davidson Museum. Johnson becomes the first Black mayor of Milwaukee.
Milwaukee Mayor Cavalier Johnson, left, is congratulated by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, right, at his inauguration on Wednesday, April 13, 2022 at the Harley-Davidson Museum. Johnson becomes the first Black mayor of Milwaukee.

Gov. Tony Evers announced Monday he will send $2.2 million in federal funding for additional security measures in downtown Milwaukee and support other police investigative efforts.

The resources come after Milwaukee officials regroup from a series of shootings May 13 in the downtown area that police said injured 21 people as thousands of revelers were walking the streets following a Milwaukee Bucks playoff game.

“The governor has been consistently making investments in public safety in Milwaukee and certainly the governor and I had conversations after the incidents happened on the 13th of this month and the governor wanted to see what the state would be able to do,” Mayor Cavalier Johnson said. “This is Gov. Evers again stepping up, making investments in public safety in Milwaukee.”

For downtown, the funds will help pay for police overtime costs in that area this summer, according to a news release from Evers’ office. It will also allow the city to install fencing that can be remotely raised and lowered to create pedestrian-only zones on weekends and during major events.

The money will also help the Milwaukee Police Department hire civilian contractors to manage ballistics technology used to investigate gun crimes and the processing of sexual assault kits, the release said. Forensic workstations, “night vision devices,” and a device that will provide instant, on-scene ballistics analysis can also now be purchased by using the funds.

Chief Jeffrey Norman said the fencing will help reduce incidents of reckless driving downtown, while the investigative support will have citywide benefits.

“We’re always appreciative of the help,” Norman said. “Seeing the governor give an investment to the city… helps us be able to get the job done.”

Since the shootings May 13, city officials have announced they will begin enforcing the city’s curfew ordinance for minors as a way of preventing youth crime and victimization. Johnson also said the city will adjust where food trucks can park in the downtown area to prevent loitering.

Police said Monday that 11 curfew citations have been issued since the enforcement measure was announced May 17.

None of the 11 arrests police announced in connection with the May 13 shootings were minors, although the victims included a 16-year-old female and 15-year-old male.

But as a violent crime wave in Milwaukee and cities across the nation continues to persist since its arrival in 2020, minors have also been caught up in violence.

Between 54 and 61 minors were victims of homicides and nonfatal shootings each year from 2016 through 2019, according to the Milwaukee Homicides Review Commission. Those numbers rose to 99 in 2020 and 137 in 2021.

As of May 9, there have been 37 juvenile victims of such incidents in 2022. Ten minors have been identified as suspects in such incidents, or 7% of all suspects in homicides and nonfatal shootings, according to the commission.

The May 13 shootings were reminiscent of a spate of downtown shootings following Bucks games during the summer of 2021. Officials have said a primary factor behind the incidents is the knack for young people below legal drinking age to “tailgate” in the downtown during large events.

Officials have associated the tailgating with loitering, drinking, smoking, gun-carrying and various disturbances.

One of the May 13 shootings, which injured at least 16 people, was centered around an area of Water Street where food trucks commonly park on weekends. Last week, Johnson said the city would adjust were food trucks can park because it is a location “where folks have been congregating and participating in some of this poor activity.”

Contact Elliot Hughes at elliot.hughes@jrn.com or 414-704-8958. Follow him on Twitter @elliothughes12.

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This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Gov. Evers sends $2.2 million for public safety efforts in Milwaukee