Solving Milwaukee's nasty crime problem will not be easy. One tactic that is guaranteed not to work is to change the subject. My colleague on Eric Von's Backstory program, Robert Miranda, wants to take the heat off what he refers to as "community phenomena" and makes what may has the merit of being a clear statement of the response to crime of much of the central city's political leadership and the shame of being not only wrong but wrong in a very dangerous way.
Robert says that wrongdoing by the city's police constitutes a "criminal culture far more dangerous to the citizens of this community, and much more difficult to catch."
This tracks the path of many "community" leaders who, quite properly, organized marches in response to the beating of Frank Jude by a pack of off-duty cops and who can't manage a tenth of that energy in response to the antinomian predation on the "community" by some of its "members."
Rogue cops are a huge problem and should be dealt with severely, and I am sure that the notion that the police are the problem gives the tingles to the type of person who sees life as an exercise in Fighting the Power and privileging the Other.
But it requires taking leave of reality.
Robert points out that Âsince 1990, 84 Milwaukee officers have been fired, and all but two appealed ... Thirteen got their jobs back, 57 lost their appeals and 12 have pending cases.Â he thinks that this means there have been "about five criminal cases per year involving Milwaukee police officers in the last 16 years."
The rather evident problem with this is that not all of these cops - or even very many of them - have been dismissed for criminal acts, much less violence against citizens. But, in acknowledgement of the fact that cops - apparently following Michael McGee, Jr.'s advice - "don't snitch", let's take that number and triple it. That would be 15 incidents per year. Too many.
But, in 2005, 6010 violent crimes were reported to the Milwaukee Police Department. It wasn't the Milwaukee Police Department that created Little Beirut and it won't be "no snitchin'" anMichaelal McGee roaming the streets in search of evildoers that will return it to a place where people can live and work. My guess is that the cops will play a rather larger role in that.
The irony of all this is that, while the perpetrators of this crimes may be disproportionately racial minorities (members of "the community" in Robert's parlance), the victims are just as black and hispanic and there are relatively few white people who live in Milwaukee's "no go" zones. It is "the community" that is held hostage to wilding in the streets and it is inexcusable not to demand that this stop.
Of course, I know that Robert and other community leaders want that to happen, but, so often, their responses seem wide of the mark. When I have more time, I'd like to consider why that is so.