Acting Chief Norman: Officer cuts will force reassessment of what MPD can do

Acting Chief Norman: Officer cuts will force reassessment of what MPD can do

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Acting Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said Milwaukee leaders will have to shift expectations for MPD if the city continues to cut officers.

"We're going to have the reassessment of what can we do, and we're going to have to make some decisions of what we're not going to be able to do," Norman said.

Mayor Tom Barrett's proposed 2022 budget calls to cut 25 officers, following cuts of 60 and 120 officers the past two years.

But some city leaders said more officers does not necessarily equal less crime.

"I've yet to see a study that shows that more officers equal safer streets," Sixth District Alderwoman Milele Coggs said. "But I think we all could agree, whether you want more officers or not, that we want these streets to be less bloody."

Milwaukee set a record for homicides in 2020, and fewer of them are being solved. In 2019, 77 percent of Milwaukee homicides ended in a convicted crime. That dropped to 55 percent last year, and this year, just 46 percent of homicides result in conviction.

MPD said part of the reason is people no longer trust or want to talk to police.

"We have seen in the last two years, with people not being willing to come forward and provide that information that they would have in the past," MPD Inspector Paul Formolo said.

Mayor Barrett has proposed using American Rescue Plan funding to hire 195 new officers. Norman said, if the city does not approve the officers, you can expect a reduction in MPD services.

"Dealing with the violent crimes, investigating, clearing the crimes," Norman said. "So those challenges are real when we have attrition, you know, you need individuals to be able to handle those responsibilities."

Barrett said he's not cutting officers by choice, but by financial necessity. He cites rising pension costs and a lack of state support.

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