Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett is facing re-election next year, and he promises to play a key role in selecting the new police chief, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. After a series of shocking incidents, including the shooting death of a 4-year-old girl, many are worried that the city is on the verge of another violent summer. Crime already looms as the top issue in the April 2008 election. No challenger has emerged, but the most discussed possibility is Milwaukee County Sheriff David A. Clarke Jr., who is already slamming the mayor repeatedly on the issue. Clarke also ran in 2004.
In all, 44 people applied to replace retiring Police Chief Nannette Hegerty. Most of the names have not been made public, but the field is said to include a mix from inside and outside the department. A new chief could be selected by September, about two months before Hegerty is to leave. A new Neighborhood Safety Initiative involves extra officers assigned to neighborhoods experiencing high numbers of homicides, shootings, armed robberies, search warrants, and calls about shots fired. They will patrol every night from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. through Sept. 8. “I want to see a reduction in crime,” said Barrett. “That’s what I expect in those neighborhoods.” He has pledged to add a net 100 new police officers to the force and will unveil a program to put surveillance cameras in high-crime neighborhoods.