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Law enforcement leaders share thoughts on summer safety at Marquette

By Bruce Harrison,


Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman and Milwaukee County Sheriff Denita Ball sat on a panel Thursday to discuss public safety as we head into the summer months.

The two joined Marquette University Lubar Center Director Derek Mosley for a chat that ranged from staffing big events to community support for police to law enforcement numbers.

The chief and sheriff agreed that preventing crimes doesn't just fall on them, but the public as a whole.

"This is where we really have a true, impactful security plan. You see something, say something. Don't think it's somebody else's responsibility," said Norman.

For upcoming events, like Summerfest, the chief said to expect exit and entry barriers as well as a visible police presence.

"I really like us to be a backdrop rather than a front drop. Working with our partners, I know we have upcoming Juneteenth, having their own security and we work in tandem so [we're] not omnipresent. But visibility, with a smile," said Norman.

Both Norman and Ball said educating young people on safety, community outreach, and cooperating with law enforcement partners are key. They also said current staffing levels pose an issue to safety.

"It's not just hiring people. We want to hire the right people, people willing to do the job we expect them to do and the way [the public] expects them to do it," said Ball.

People in the audience shared their thoughts too.

"Back in my day, we had what we called hot spots, where we targeted hot spots — shooting, crashes. I think if we did more stuff like that, we could get a better handle on crime," said Ball.

Community activist Tracey Dent said the police should consider teaching the public de-escalation tactics.

"They mentioned they can't be everywhere. They need our help. Well, maybe, if you can teach us some tools to help our community and our city, our neighborhoods, then maybe we won't have to call the police," said Dent.

The city's latest reported homicide was on Wednesday evening near 46th and Melvina. Police said they're investigating the shooting death of a 51-year-old man and looking for suspects.

His death marks 54 homicides on the year, according to police data, which is down from 83 at this point last year. But police data shows that over recent years, homicides and violent crime have grown in warmer months.

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