After a rash of fourteen homicides in the first fifteen days of August, Milwaukee crept ever so close to surpassing Chicago’s per capita homicide rate. The city of Milwaukee has become an increasingly dangerous place. Carjackings, armed robberies, social dysfunction and murder are far too common. Mayor Tom Barrett’s cuts to the Milwaukee Police Department and further de facto cuts (the mayor’s unwillingness to fill several hundred police officer positions) has pushed Milwaukee to the breaking point.
Yet Milwaukee isn’t the only city in Wisconsin with a crime problem. A turf war in Madison between the Chicago-based Gangster Disciples and the capital city’s indigenous gangs has resulted in record reports of gun fire. For the first seven months of 2018, Madison Police Chief Mike Koval reported 112 calls for shots fired, down slightly from the same period in 2017, but a far cry from the ninety-one total firearms violations for all of 2002.
In both Milwaukee and Madison, the burgeoning heroin trade is a major part of the problem. Last year, Madison had a record number of homicides, including “a cold, brutal assassination” that occurred in the parking lot of a south side convenience store. In Milwaukee, the bodies are piling up in the morgue as the Democratic National Committee’s selection team is set to tour the city — a finalist for that party’s 2020 convention. Note to Democrats: bring your Kevlar. Last September, the windows of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel were shot out in the middle of the day. A photo on the newspaper’s web site showed the Milwaukee Bucks new arena — the would-be site of the DNC convention — in the background.
With violent crime making so much news throughout the state, one would think Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tony Evers would take the issue seriously. Instead, Evers and his fellow Democrats want to treat criminal offenders with kid gloves. Evers said he wants to release inmates from prison early, do away with Wisconsin’s truth-in-sentencing provisions, and close a much needed detention center in downtown Milwaukee. Evers called Wisconsin “dumb” on crime because some felons on probation or parole — typically after numerous violations — are revoked and sent to prison. Evers apparently believes criminals should not be held accountable for violating the conditions of their community supervision. Worse yet, Evers said releasing half of the prison population is “a goal that’s worth accomplishing.”
Over half the convicted felons Evers seeks to release would return to Milwaukee. In an effort to protect his constituents, one would think Mayor Tom Barrett would pipe up, show some leadership, and call out the far-left Madison wing of his party. Instead, we’ve heard crickets from Milwaukee’s mayor, who seems more intent on expanding his white elephant trolley system than dealing with his city’s out-of-control crime problem.
And what does Milwaukee County’s district attorney, John Chisholm, think of Evers’ soft on crime initiatives? Earlier this month, Chisholm’s office filed murder charges when Milwaukee Police Officer Michael Michalski, a seventeen-year veteran, was shot and killed by a felon recently released from prison. So far, not a single law enforcement official in Milwaukee County has called out Evers for seeking to give dangerous felons a get out of prison early card.
Although Evers wants to treat felons with kid gloves, he has no problems making life more difficult for law-abiding citizens to protect themselves. Last October, Evers told Wisconsin Public Radio he would support a law mandating that gun-owners register all firearms with the state, with a fee, of course. As if convicted felons, like the thug that murdered Officer Michalski, would actually register their firearms. Evers also favors letting each municipality decide if individuals with state authorized permits can carry firearms concealed in their jurisdictions. This change in the law would require gun owners to carry an inch-thick book with each town, villages, and cities ordinance restrictions. The purpose of Evers’ proposal is to, in effect, regulate concealed carry out of existence.
This November, the safety of Wisconsin voters and their families is on the ballot. As a thirty-year law enforcement veteran, I can unequivocally say Tony Evers’ soft of crime, kumbaya agenda is dangerous for Wisconsin.
Steve Spingola is a retired Milwaukee Police Department Homicide Lieutenant, an author, and investigator with the popular true crime program “Cold Justice.”