Milwaukee’s homicide rate sadly continues to rise.
What can be done about it? And how do we put a stop to reckless driving?
Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman sat down with Libby Collins on this week’s episode of WTMJ Conversations to discuss those issues and so much more.
Listen in the player above.
A portion of the conversation was transcribed below, courtesy of eCourt Reporters, Inc.
LIBBY COLLINS: I gotta ask you about some specifics.
CHIEF JEFFREY NORMAN: Uh-oh.
LIBBY COLLINS: That homicide rate in the City of Milwaukee —
CHIEF JEFFREY NORMAN: Yes, ma’am.
LIBBY COLLINS: — is —
CHIEF JEFFREY NORMAN: Unacceptable.
LIBBY COLLINS: — is not going down.
CHIEF JEFFREY NORMAN: Unacceptable.
LIBBY COLLINS: Why? What’s going on in the city that it has come to the point where it is today?
CHIEF JEFFREY NORMAN: Well, I’m never afraid to talk about anything that we need to talk about. I’ve said this ad nauseum, you have poor conflict resolution coupled with the accessibility of firearms.
We have firearms too readily accessible for those who should not have it. And by what and by how means, we’re still looking into that, trying to find out the intel.
Is it because guns are left in the car, they’re stolen, and now they have another weapon? That happens.
Is it because there are homes being burglarized where, you know, guns are being taken from homes?
Is it because they’re a straw purchaser?
There are individuals in our community who should never have a gun in the first place. And now we’re seeing things that always
been part of human kind conflict. I mean, just the other day we were talking about someone who was arguing over, you know, chips that end up where someone’s dead. How do we get to that place? I don’t understand this.
We have situations where individuals who get into an auto accident, gun play is the end result.
We have situations where there is a party that goes bad, gun play is the end result.
So, I do understand the law enforcement responsibility of being able to impact, engage, hold people accountable for these behaviors, but what the challenge is, there are things that are not within our control. Meaning that there is pretty much a hard crystal ball to figure out that this individual’s anger is going to spill out into an unacceptable result that you should have been able to either resolve through words or — I don’t know, I just don’t believe that they don’t understand the permanency of using a firearm because you were upset about something.
So, the number one factor for our nonfatal shootings, meaning someone got shot and did not die, is conflict argument.
The number two factor for homicide is conflict argument, but the number one for homicide is unknown.
So, really, in both categories, when you talk about violence, conflict argument is the reason for the violence. That’s why I talk about partnerships and being genuine about this. There are others in our community who handle these particular type of things from a preventative side, from a therapeutic side. We’re not therapists, we’re not psychologists, we’re not psychiatrists. We are law enforcement.
So, there’s other individuals who are holding that lift or being engaged in the behaviors of how do you interject during the argument before it gets violent. How do we empower our community to find out ways to resolve our conflict short of violence. Those are conversations we need to have.
The Milwaukee Police Department is very much in tune with our partnerships in our community. We work with the Office of Violence Prevention, we work with the Credible Messengers, we work with a lot of different community stakeholders out there where there’s Running Rebels, Safe & Sound, Salvation Army. We understand we have a role in providing the data, providing the support of identifying those who are, I will say, susceptible to being in violent situations so we can have some type of intervention impact on the front end. We don’t want to be the response. We’d rather see things to be attenuated or stopped before it gets to the point where we have to bring in the heavy, you know, results of, you know, coming in to arrest someone or to bring them to justice.
But we understand our role. We understand that we have an impact to play in regards to, you know, being proactive in our community. You know, the patrols, we are, you know, focused in regards to those who want to do most harm in our community when we have individuals who don’t understand violence is not the way. We have a lot of different teams that work on finding those violent offenders. We work with our federal partners, because we understand that role. We are law enforcement and we do have a robust response to those who are doing harm in our community.