Kleefisch talks police, public safety plan in Milwaukee

Wisconsin gubernatorial candidate Rebecca Kleefisch touted her public safety plan in Milwaukee on Tuesday, holding a news conference with the Milwaukee Police Association and Wisconsin Fraternal Order of Police.

Both police organizations have endorsed her.

Kleefisch is promising more police in Milwaukee, and sending the state patrol into high-crime areas. She also said she would fire Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm.

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The Republican candidate discussed recent attacks against Milwaukee law enforcement officers; three were shot and wounded, one while off-duty, in a two-week span. 

"Our law enforcement officers are under siege right now, and nobody seems to want to stand up for them. Well, I will," Kleefisch said.

"Particularly in Milwaukee County, we are seeing violent criminals with rap sheets a mile long being let go to further terrorize our communities," said Kleefisch.

Kleefisch mentioned the suspect in the Waukesha parade attack, who was let out on $1,000 bail prior to the events that left six people dead and dozens of others injuries.

"When we see violent criminals let back out on the streets and one of them mows down a Waukesha Christmas parade, we have far more than a problem," Kleefisch said. "This problem needs to end, and in my administration, it will."

"As your governor, I will fire (Milwaukee County) District Attorney John Chisholm."

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm

"I think the governor, Gov. Tony Evers, made the right decision that an elected officer will end up having another chance, by the public, to be able to measure, his effectiveness, by an election," State Rep. David Bowen (D-Milwaukee) said.

Kleefisch backs changing the state constitution to make it harder for violent crime suspects to get out on bail. She said she wants to take away some discretion from district attorneys.

Bowen, who is running for Kleefisch's old job as Wisconsin's lieutenant governor, said he agrees that violent people should be behind bars.

"I think it’s very clear that any time you have a situation where officers are being attacked like this, and our own citizens ending up in situations of gun violence, all across our community, it’s time to raise the alarm," said Bowen. "Many of us have been raising that alarm for quite some time."

State Rep. David Bowen

State Rep. David Bowen

However, Bowen said Republicans – including Kleefisch – haven't sent Milwaukee enough shared revenue.

"We also need to invest in prevention, immediately," Bowen said. "We’re talking about programs that are working in communities on the ground that work, that get families access to the resources that they need. We’re talking about investments in mental health."

"It’s very important here not to be naive. Money is fungible, and this is about priorities. (Former) Mayor Barrett has not prioritized the safety and security of the people of Milwaukee," Kleefisch said.

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"That’s hogwash, that’s baloney," said Bowen. "The state is sitting on billions of dollars right now that need to be poured back into the local level, and the state can no longer shortchange our local communities."

Public Policy Polling, which has an A- grade in FiveThirtyEight's pollster ratings, surveyed Milwaukee's likely voters and found 50% say crime and public safety should be the number one priority of the next mayor. Milwaukee Works, a nonprofit, commissioned the poll.

The issue of crime is not just an issue for the upcoming mayor's race, but also statewide races.

Evers' campaign responded to Kleefisch, saying in a statement:

"After nearly a decade of staggering cuts to shared revenue, the governor has supported efforts that tackle the root causes of crime and invested in community-based solutions... including a $45 million investment in safer communities last year that included funding directly to Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention.

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