Milwaukee police officer killed; leaders respond, ask for peace

Wisconsin and Milwaukee officials are sharing their emotional responses to the shooting death of a police officer on the city's south side early Tuesday, Feb. 7. 

In the wake of the shooting, FOX6 News questioned members of Milwaukee's Common Council about what they are doing to stop violence. The city saw three consecutive years of record homicides, but 2023 represented a chance for change. 

"Extremely frustrating, because when is it going to stop?" said Ald. Mark Chambers.

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"We’re saddened by it, but you know we're angered by it, too, because the violence just needs to end. Too many guns, too many crimes, too much violence, and the community is sick of it. You’re gonna pull out a firearm to resolve any conflict resolution is unacceptable," said Common Council President José Pérez. "We’ve got way too many people that are doing positive things in our neighborhoods, to have that be the answer to every difference."

"The best thing that works in my neighborhoods are collaboration with community-based organizations – the block captains, the residents on the block, the churches. If you see something, say something," said Ald. Russell Stamper. "The old-school tactics have worked, and we just have to go back to them. People have to say something. Men have to stand up, and they have to talk to these young men – we have to talk to the young ladies."

"It’s quite unfortunate what’s going on, but it’s also a reminder that we need to do more as community, we need to do better as a community, it starts with myself. It starts with my colleagues, but it also starts with us in the community. We can’t do it alone," Chambers said.

Pérez represents the district where the officer was killed. He said there has to be a multi-faceted approach to violence prevention, and that change won't happen overnight.

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"We’re saddened by it, but you know we're angered by it, too, because the violence just needs to end. Too many guns, too many crimes, too much violence, and the community is sick of it," he said. "You’re gonna pull out a firearm to resolve any conflict resolution is unacceptable. We’ve got way too many people that are doing positive things in our neighborhoods, to have that be the answer to every difference."

The Common Council president said the community must "invest in violence prevention," particularly at home.

"Watching the news and it says, ‘It’s 10 o’clock do you know where your children are?’" Pérez said. "If you can’t answer that, you should ask for help, whether its family members, community members, call us here. We'll try to get to resources.

Milwaukee Police Officer Peter Jerving

The sacrifice of service ripped a hole in the heart of the city.

"We're saddened by this. Our hearts are heavy, our condolences. We're hoping that their memories may bring them some comfort and to know that the city appreciates the sacrifices by the police department, the fire department, our first responders," said Pérez.

The city of Milwaukee and state of Wisconsin, along with outside groups, have invested millions of dollars to fight violence. Again Tuesday, the answer from elected leaders was that the solution is everyone – that everyone has a role to play in peace.

Official statements

Milwaukee Police Association President Andrew Wagner:

Common Council President José G. Pérez:

"I am angered and deeply saddened by the death earlier this morning of one of our officers during an incident that took place just blocks from my home in the 12th Aldermanic District.

"My prayers are with the officer’s loved ones and friends, and with the men and women of the MPD who served with him.

"In our city we have too many guns, too many who are willing to carry and use guns, and far too much violence affecting every neighborhood. The death of every citizen is a tragic loss for our city, but it is especially tragic when it's a police officer who has sworn an oath to protect and serve.

"We as a city need to come together. We can and we must do better. This is up to all of us. Fathers and mothers, grandparents, pastors and priests, community activists. We need peace on our streets and an end to the violence."

Milwaukee Common Council joint statement:

"We mourn with sadness, pain, and anger the loss of our fallen Milwaukee Police officer, killed in the line of duty early this morning during an interaction with a robbery suspect on the near south side.  As Common Council members we know well the deep sacrifices and dedicated service of the men and women of the Milwaukee Police Department, and we offer our heartfelt sympathies to the officer’s family and to each and every member of the Milwaukee Police Department family.

"The officer we lost was assigned to District 4, but was assisting with activities on the other end of the city. This is not uncommon, as our officers are consistently working together to serve our entire city with selflessness and courage.

"As we have seen before, the coming days will be very difficult and filled with grief, as we stand together to honor our fallen officer who showed such devotion to the City of Milwaukee. We will also stand with the entire Milwaukee Police Department in unity to offer our full support during this time of mourning.

"We encourage the wider Milwaukee community to join with us in honoring the memory of our fallen officer while continuing to support one another during this painful time.

We also ask community members to pray for peace, for a stop to the normalization of gun carrying and/or gun culture, and for an end to senseless violence anywhere and everywhere in our city."

Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office:

"The Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office joins the Milwaukee Police Department in mourning the loss of the Milwaukee Police Officer who was killed in the line of duty today on the city’s south side.

"Every day across the United States, brave men and women like this slain officer come to work for the sole purpose of protecting and serving their communities. This shooting underscores the dangers that law enforcement officers face every time they put on a uniform.

"Our thoughts and prayers go out to this officer’s loved ones, friends, and the entire Milwaukee Police Department, as they mourn his ultimate sacrifice.

"The violence in our community highlights the critical need for state, local, and community partners to work together to combat crime and make our neighborhoods safer."

Milwaukee County Executive David Crowley

"My most heartfelt condolences, and that of all Milwaukee County, go out to the family and loved ones of the officer who lost his life serving and protecting our community.

"My thoughts are also with the entire Milwaukee Police Department in this difficult moment having lost one of their brothers.

"As I have often said, as a community, we cannot sit idle. We must gather every resource available to address the gun violence plaguing our communities and prevent anything like this from happening again.

"Today is a somber day for all of Milwaukee."

Milwaukee Fire Department:

"The MFD extends our deepest condolences to the Milwaukee Police Department and the family of the fallen officer who made the ultimate sacrifice. Our members work closely alongside their officers, a close relationship we value. Our hearts go out to our brothers & sisters in blue."

State Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee):

"There are few jobs, that when you leave home, you don’t know if you are going to make it back at the end of the day. Today, Officer Jerving’s family’s worst fears were realized. Today, the Milwaukee Police Department lost a colleague, friend, and a brother. And while, many of us didn’t personally know the officer, we are all impacted.

"Two lives were lost in this tragedy and we have to ask what can we do differently? Is it more officers, more resources, more penalties, or more you fill in the blank? As an elected official, this is what keeps you up at night.

"For now, I am humbled to learn of Officer Jerving’s many positive contributions to the department and the Milwaukee community. The days ahead will be difficult. I am hopeful that some comfort will be possible as this young officer’s life is remembered."

State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine):

"I woke up this morning, and my heart sank for Milwaukee and Wisconsin. I ask that everyone pray for the fallen officer and his family, the Milwaukee police, and the state. The murder of this officer, who was doing his small part to make Milwaukee safer, was senseless and preventable.

"The truth is, until Milwaukee changes how it treats violence, how it punishes criminals, how it educates and supports its children, and how it budgets for public safety, these tragic, senseless and preventable attacks will continue. The question is when will the people of Milwaukee say: ‘Enough is enough! We’re tired of living in fear of the criminals ruling our streets. We want our city back!’"

State Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee):

"I wish that I could offer my thanks to this officer for his bravery in response to a robbery last night. Sadly, I can only express my deepest and most sincere sympathies to this young man’s family as they mourn his courageous sacrifice.

"In the course of his service to our city, a 37-year-old police officer was shot and killed in pursuit of a robbery suspect early this morning.

"Milwaukee, we must find a way to end the violence that has led to so many lives being lost or ruined. Too many times I have heard from neighbors and friends that they feel less safe today than during the past. The robbery that led to these deaths this morning should never have happened, and our community should not be deprived of any more public safety personnel.

"My thoughts and prayers are with the family, friends, and colleagues of this brave officer. I hope that they, and our community can heal from this tragic event. Now is the time for our community to come together, we can all play a part in helping to end violence in Milwaukee."

State Sen. Julian Bradley (R-Franklin):

"This morning our community mourns a tragic loss. My heart goes out to his family, friends, and fellow officers. The men and women of law enforcement need our support right now. We must never take for granted the risk law enforcement faces daily while protecting and serving our communities. Join me in prayer and support for the family, the Milwaukee Police Department, and the greater Milwaukee area."

State Rep. Duey Stroebel (R-Cedarburg):

"My sincere condolences to the family, Milwaukee Police Department and greater Milwaukee area for your tragic loss of a heroic police officer killed in the line of duty. After serving and protecting Milwaukee residents for four years, reports indicate the officer’s life was taken by an armed robber fleeing from responding officers.

"This tragedy sheds light on the need to address failures in the criminal justice system in Milwaukee. Only hours after being released on probation, 19-year-old armed robber Terrell Thompson committed this horrific act when he should have been locked up behind bars. The Mayor and other city influencers need to show leadership and once and for all get tough on crime. The good citizens of Milwaukee deserve better."

International Union of Police Associations:

"During the early morning hours of February 7th, 2023, Milwaukee Police Officer Peter E. Jerving was shot and killed while apprehending a robbery suspect, from a robbery that had occurred the day prior (February 6). 

"Ironically, on the day before the shooting, the suspect in that robbery, Terrell Thompson, 19, had been sentenced to 120 days; with that sentence stayed, and he released on probation by Milwaukee County Judge Christopher Dee – the result, tragedy came to the entirety of the Milwaukee community.

"Far too often we see people released by the court only to continue their criminal activities. This was obviously and sadly the case with Thompson, who on the very day of his release, left the courtroom and committed a robbery. 

"It is far past time to hold those who choose to violate the law accountable and to remove them, even temporarily, from a law-abiding society. Perhaps the certainty of a period of incarceration will dissuade them from their criminal behavior. What is now being done is not working and the men and women who protect and serve our communities are paying the price - too often with their lives.

"Our thoughts and prayer go out as we join our brothers and sisters in the Milwaukee Police Department in mourning this tragic loss."    

Forward Latino National President Darryl Morin"

"Today we offer our deepest condolences and prayers to the family of Milwaukee Police Department Officer who gave his life this morning so that we could be safe. We also send our condolences to the men and women of the Milwaukee Police Department and the Milwaukee Police Association. As we struggle to keep our children, our schools, our homes and our businesses safe, this morning we saw an officer, committed to achieving this goal, fall in the line of duty. We can only honor his sacrifice by coming together and working together to end the arc of violence.

"Forward Latino encourages everyone throughout Milwaukee, to act on destructive behaviors whether it be in our homes, our neighborhoods, our workplaces or elsewhere, as these behaviors will only lead to more tragedy and loss. While we expect only the best out of each member of the Milwaukee Police Department, so must we expect the same out of ourselves. 

"Once again, our prayers and condolences for all touched by today’s tragic loss. God bless."