Violent crime in Milwaukee rose 20 percent in the first nine months of 2006 compared with 2005, while arrests and gun seizures were essentially flat over the whole year, Police Chief Nannette Hegerty said yesterday, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. She said police aren’t the only answer to crime but added it doesn’t help that she has 200 officer vacancies and another 250 people who are either recruits or on limited duty–not on the street. Calls for police service were up 5 percent last year, to 609,779.
Homicides dropped 15 percednt last year to 103. Alderman Bob Donovan acknowledged that crime is up elsewhere in the country but wondered why it didn’t drop in Milwaukee as much as elsewhere before it took off. Alderman Michael McGee said by announcing her retirement early, Hegerty made herself a “lame duck,” and officers would take advantage of that. Hegerty said other cities’ drops in crime were attributable to jobs programs and hiring more officers. The chief cited planned or ongoing programs meant to address the spike in violence, including trials of pole cameras in troubled neighborhoods and cameras in squad cars, online crime reporting and an early-warning computer system to flag problem officers. She said a group is studying how to improve operations, including staffing of specialty units, police response and booking procedures.