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Latest shared revenue bill requires 25 police officers at M.P.S.

By Ben Jordan,


The latest version of the shared revenue bill to increase state funding for local governments includes a Republican plan to bring police officers back to Milwaukee Public Schools.

TMJ4 learned more from Mayor Cavalier Johnson Friday on his behind-the-scenes negotiations with GOP leaders leading up the bipartisan deal.

Mayor Johnson says Republican lawmakers originally wanted to require police officers at every Milwaukee Public School. That would have meant adding 156 school resource officers.

Mayor Johnson says he helped negotiate that number down to 25 school resource officers. An M.P.S. elementary school teacher thinks one is too many.

Milwaukee police haven’t been assigned to Milwaukee Public Schools for the past three years. A big decision in Madison would take that choice away from M.P.S.

"I'm really disappointed that we are circumventing the locally elected school board's decision to end this contract with MPD,” said M.P.S. teacher Angela Harris.

Harris is the chairwoman of Milwaukee’s Black Educators Caucus. She helped lead the effort in 2020 to have the district terminate its contract with M.P.D. Before that, specially trained officers were stationed outside of schools. Harris says she doesn’t want them back.

"I feel it's going to disparately and disproportionately affect our Black and Brown students who are the target of this action."

A TMJ4 open records request found that Milwaukee police responded to M.P.S. high schools nearly a thousand times during the 2021-2022 school year. That was after school resource officers were pulled from M.P.S.

Mayor Johnson has been a proponent of bringing back school resource officers. He was in the negotiating room with Republican lawmakers this spring to come to an agreement on shared revenue.

"I think the goal for Republicans was to make sure that officers are in place at schools where things are more likely to pop off, where you're likely to see reckless driving or fights that would require police attention,” he said. “This {elementary school} is not a place where that would be necessary and so MPS and the school district will be able to make sure officers go to places where those concerns might be more heightened."

If this requirement stays in the shared revenue bill as expected, MPS would need to have 25 school resource officers by the beginning of 2024.

The Milwaukee Public School district responded to our request for comment by sending the following statement.

“MPS is aware of the tentative deal proposed in Madison,” a district spokesperson said. “We are reviewing the details to learn more about how it could affect the district. Until legislative decisions have been made, any additional comments would be speculation.”

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