U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL PROMISES STUDY OF MILWAUKEE VIOLENT CRIME, WILL REPORT BACK TO KOHL WITH PROPOSALS TO REVERSE THE TREND
U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales today agreed to study the rise in violent crime in Milwaukee and pledged to report back to U.S. Senator Herb Kohl about what can be done to reverse the trend. The Attorney General's office indicated that the report is expected to be completed by March. Attorney General Gonzales testified at a hearing on Department of Justice (DoJ) oversight in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Kohl, who serves on the Committee, faulted the slash in federal funding for successful crime prevention and law enforcement programs as the Administration has shifted resources to focus on terrorism. Kohl noted that there are nearly 2,200 fewer Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents devoted to traditional crime since 2000. In addition, funding cuts in the COPS program has meant that the Milwaukee Police Department, which received $1 million from the COPS program in 2002, received no funding at all last year.
"The entire country has been hit hard by a crime wave. My home city of Milwaukee is no exception. Like the rest of the country, it saw record increases in 2005. As you may know, I discussed this topic with the FBI Director in December. Since then, violent crime statistics for 2006 have been made available, showing that 2005 was not an aberration but rather part of a trend," Kohl said.
Between 2002 and 2005 -- as a result of cuts in COPS program funding -- the Milwaukee Police Department's forces were reduced by 55 police officers, leaving it with nearly 200 vacancies in a force of 2,000. Years of decreases in funding have led to fewer cops on the beat and increases in violent crime.
"We are not giving our states and localities the help they need," Kohl told the Attorney General.
Last month, Kohl raised the same issue with FBI Director Robert Mueller during another Judiciary Committee oversight hearing. Mueller said that he supported joint task forces with federal, state and local law enforcement and that he would take a specific look at Milwaukee. Director Mueller's bureau is within the DoJ that Attorney General Gonzales oversees.