MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett tells FOX6 News business/jobs and safety are two focuses of the State of the City address, set to be delivered on Monday, February 24th.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett
"Working to reduce violence in the city -- that's always at the top of my agenda," Mayor Barrett told FOX6 News on the eve of his State of the City address.
There are police officers in Milwaukee who chase after hundreds of shots fired calls every year. Legislators at the state Capitol are in the process of expanding the ShotSpotter program. The technology picks up audio of gunshots and allows the police to pinpoint the location of the crime. If passed, a proposed bill would provide $175,000 to help increase the coverage area of ShotSpotter from three square miles to ten square miles.
MPD ShotSpotter program
Mayor Barrett expressed his support of this legislation shortly after it was introduced, saying: "Public safety is my top priority and ShotSpotter is a proven effective tool in our crime-fighting efforts. Expanding this cutting-edge technology an additional three and a half square miles will enhance public safety and the department’s ability to respond, investigate and arrest violent criminals."
MPD ShotSpotter program
ShotSpotter is all about identifying where the gunfire is coming from, but Mayor Barrett says a focus of the State of the City address involves where those bullets are going.
"Of the 105 homicides that we've had, I'd say 80 or 95 of those people knew each other. These are drug deals gone bad. These are gang fights. I'm not minimizing that, but overall, the city is safe," Mayor Barrett said.
Mayor Barrett says MPD has seen victories over the last six years, but says there is more work to be done to improve safety in the city.
He practiced his speech on Sunday at the Journey House on Milwaukee's south side -- a community organization that works to increase education, reduce unemployment and crime, strengthen families and revitalize neighborhoods in Milwaukee.
Mayor Barrett says continuing to bring jobs to the city, and developing the city's property is key in moving the city of Milwaukee forward. He says he'd like to copy the kind of growth seen in the Menomonee Valley.
"Now, it's teeming with jobs. We want to see the same thing happen in the Reed Street Yards, which is just south of the Harley-Davidson Museum. We want to see that happening at Century City, which used to be the A.O. Smith site," Mayor Barrett said.
Mayor Barrett also spoke about the resources the city has used to combat the bitter cold and snow we've seen this winter.
The deep freeze has kept crews busy battling a large number of water main breaks this winter, and the impact to road crews has surfaced in the form of potholes that may get worse before they get better.
"As spring comes, and I know it's going to come someday, we're going to have even more people out there," Mayor Barrett said.
Mayor Barrett has urged the public to report pothole problems to the city, by calling 414-286-CITY. Mayor Barrett says most reported potholes are repaired in just a few days.
Mayor Barrett has said the city is putting about $17 million into the roads this year -- and has asked that money be allocated from the state to help with Milwaukee's roads. He wants the state to use about $17 million of its $84.6 million transportation surplus for an emergency local road improvement initiative.
Gov. Walker has said more money is coming, saying the budget includes a four-percent increase for local road aid.
The State of the City address is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. on Monday, February 24th at the Journey House.