Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman talks about public safety challenges and goals for 2022
MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Dozens of people lost their lives in Milwaukee in 2021. CBS 58 has shared their stories and also talked to organizations that say they're on the ground doing the work to combat violence. Could 2022 be different? CBS 58's Winnie Dortch sat down with Milwaukee's top cop.
Police Chief Jeffrey Norman went into 2022 with renewed faith after a violent 2021. It was another recording-breaking year of homicides. There were 194 people killed.
"We have a lot of work to do."
Chief Norman says no single department is responsible and people shouldn't point fingers.
"Work with partners such as Office of Violence Prevention, working with the department of human health services, or working with a lot of our federal partners makes me feel hopeful."
The pandemic has created new challenges.
"There are other issues as it regards to the pandemic that continues to come back, the ups and downs. Schools not fully in. There's all those things that contribute to, unfortunately, our overall effectiveness of public safety."
Partnerships have been developed and prospective plans are in place. However, is there a real solution?
"It is truly difficult to wrap your hands around one solution. Looking at our statistics and seeing yes, we have another high year, 2021, of homicides, the second most contributing factor is argument, fight."
Chief Norman admits there are issues the department doesn’t have the expertise to address. He says this is why relationships are crucial.
"You have to look at plausible solutions, and we are willing to be partners with those individuals in regards to plausible solutions, because just locking them up and throwing away the key is not the all and encompassing answer," he said. "We recognize that part of our commitment is working with our partners, sharing the data, sharing what is the reasons we are finding. Sometimes it is unknown and that is a true challenge, figuring out the true reason for that death or that shooting."
The department has turned its focus to repeat offenders.
"We all know who they are and that’s where the rubber meets the road," Norman said. "How we can use our collective resources, where it's from, our governmental partners at the federal, state, county level, working with our municipal partners, those frequent flyers, the individuals that are consistently doing harm in our community. What can we do collectively to make sure there is an accountability that we are not seeing, repeat of shootings, the repeat of stolen vehicles."
During the interview, Chief Norman made it clear that no one crime is more important than the other.
"We don't really have the luxury of trying to pick one over the other. There's unfortunately the same level of urgency dealing with those two type of crimes. In many times, they are connected; you have a stolen vehicle that is now being fault over groups of individuals using violence."
Milwaukee police solved 96 murders last year.
"For 2021 we had a clearance rate around in the 50s. When you have that broken down, I think we had like 194 homicides, that's half. Still, compared to the years before our pandemic, are in line with what we've been seeing."
Chief Norman says one murder is one too many and everyone must keep working together.
"Being able to stay steady and stay focused," Norman said.
The department has a little under 1,600 sworn police officers. This is due to retirement. The recent approval of three classes for 2022 will help with replacement.
Watch the full interview with the chief below: