Milwaukee lawmakers and police yesterday debated the best way to fight crime–hiring more police officers or investing in social programs, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports. Their discussion highlighted the choices they face in the 2007 city budget. Mayor Tom Barrett calls for boosting the number of officers on the street by 40. Police Chief Nannette Hegerty said her officers are so busy dealing with violent crime that they can’t pay attention to less-significant offenses that residents want them to handle.
Aldermen Mike D’Amato and Michael Murphy said that money spent on boosting police staffing was money that could have been spent on job programs and public health initiatives to stem the root causes of crime. “At some point in time, we have to steer the ship in a different direction,” D’Amato said. Hegerty and John Balcerzak, president of the Milwaukee Police Association, agreed that officials needed to do more to solve the social problems that lead to crime. It could take years for that to have an impact, and in the meantime, they argued, Milwaukee still needs more police officers.