'We cannot do this alone': MPD gives update on Operation Summer Guardian, asks for community help

NOW: ’We cannot do this alone’: MPD gives update on Operation Summer Guardian, asks for community help

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Operation Summer Guardian is nearing its first month, and the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) has said it has helped them take criminals off the streets.

"Our officers are there in that area if they see something happening, they will react to it at that point, but their presence in that area is the proactivity," Capt. James Hutchinson told CBS 58 on Friday.

Hutchinson is the commander of the Special Investigation Division that is overseeing Operation Summer Guardian.

"Operation Summer Guardian is an initiative that we have that deploys officers in the City of Milwaukee into areas that are most affected by violent crime, shootings, homicides, shot spotters and shots fired. We're going into those areas that are most affected with officers that are visible and are impacting the crime within those areas," Hutchinson explained.

MPD chose the areas based on the data-driven analysis that found prevalent violence in 27 neighborhoods within Police Districts 2, 3, 4,5 and 7.

"We're putting officers in there, so it's logical that we're now going to encounter persons that would be committing crimes, and we have, as a result, made a number of arrests, a number of gun seizures, and drug seizures, as well as recovered stolen cars," Hutchinson said.

"It's the proactive nature, it's the officers' observations in those areas. We have great officers on this department that are aware of their surroundings that are looking for criminal activity, they're seeing in these areas, logically, and that's what they’re reacting to."

To date, they have deployed 13 times and so far, they have seized over 16 guns, made over 16 arrests and recovered illegal substances. Even with the recent success, Hutchinson stresses this is constitutional policing to help the city, not about police invading neighborhoods. They are also working with a group of up to 25 community stakeholders.

"I think the reaction has been positive. Let's do more of this work. But I also think it is an eye-opener for our community. Some of the firearms that we have retrieved, it's been like, 'wow, that's on our street,'" MPD Community Engagement Manager Marcey Patterson said.

On Friday, those stakeholders and MPD met for the first time since the program started this year. Patterson shared the department's progress with those community members and took in their feedback.

"Actually, what I've noticed is that it's a community cry for us to continue this after the summer," Patterson said about her meeting.

She also mentioned that many residents are inquiring about the door hangers the department started handing out before deploying into neighborhoods. They explain the mission of Operation Summer Guardian while asking the community to help police reduce crime in these violent crime hotspots.

"These people, these folks are living in those areas. So, they know what they see, they hear, and they're frequently victims of this violent crime, right? But they don't want to reach out to the police because of the stigma. The danger," Hutchinson said. "There are other ways to get ahold of us. Tiplines, alders, 911. We want to do this as a team. We cannot do this alone."

Operation Summer Guardian will continue through September. For more information, click here.

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