"It's a step in the right direction:" Common Council okays proposal for 85 more cops

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The question over how many police officers Milwaukee should add, sparks a lengthy debate among aldermen. They voted Friday on an amendment that would reduce the new class of upcoming cops from 85 to 73.

For longer than an hour, the Milwaukee Common Council debates whether the city should hire 73 or 85 new police officers. In the end, 6 "yes" and 9 "no," a majority approves Mayor Tom Barrett's proposal for 85 more cops.

"Certainly, 12 officers is a drop in the bucket but at least it's a drop and it's a step in the right direction," said Milwaukee Alderman, Bob Donovan.

While Donovan says he's like to see between one and two hundred more officers, others say 73 would've been enough. They say more of the budget should go toward programs they believe prevent crime instead of just responding to it.

"What came first, the chicken or the egg? The issue for me is how do we deal with this issue economically and grow businesses in the city of Milwaukee instead of adding more law enforcement officers," said Milwaukee Alderman, Joe Davis Sr.

"More building inspectors to deal with chronic nuisance properties in the city of Milwaukee, which are a major incubator for crime, fear, and disorder," said Milwaukee Alderman, Robert Bauman.

Barrett maintains those 12 officers could make a huge difference, adding thousands of patrol hours. Most of the council backs his proposal -- while others wonder if there's a better way.

"If you have a different philosophy that more cops don't reduce crime, I'd be happy to take the cops you don't want and put them in my district," said Milwaukee Alderman, Tony Zielinski.

"I'm not saying we don't need them or want them. My question is can we afford them? And if we can, is that the best use of the money? That's my only question," said Milwaukee Alderman, Nik Kovac.

The council also rejected an amendment that would take $1.2 million from the police overtime fund and put it into a 'special purpose' column that the council would oversee.

The council did approve an amendment that calls for the hiring of 10 new community service officers.