Visit to the Milwaukee Acting Police Chiefs Public Forum on Leadership Strategy
Acting Police Chief Jeffrey Norman has long championed the general need to improve community outreach within the Milwaukee Police Department, and during his first public forum on Saturday, he also touted it as the cornerstone of its crime reduction strategy.
Norman has repeatedly been asked how he plans to approach issues such as violent crime, dangerous driving and human trafficking, and each time, Norman said the ministry, under his leadership, would tackle these issues in partnership with other community stakeholders.
“My crime strategy is community engagement,” Norman said, later adding, “We look for partnerships wherever we can find them. We know we have some trust in some communities, we have some trust in others and none in many others We are working on all three.
Norman spent about an hour and a half answering questions from about 20 residents on Saturday morning at the Silver Spring Neighborhood Center, 5460 N. 64th St. This was the first of three occasions Norman will answer questions from the public during its application process for become Milwaukee’s next permanent police chief.
He is scheduled to appear at a virtual forum from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on October 28, and again in person from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. on October 30 at Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co., 224 W. Bruce St.
Norman was invited by the Fire and Police Commission, the oversight body of the police service, to be the sole candidate for the permanent post after becoming interim chief in December 2020. A decision on his candidacy is expected in November.
Norman was publicly interviewed by the commission two weeks ago, while the topic of conversation was primarily the culture change within the police service. But on Saturday, he answered further questions about the public safety and health issues plaguing residents.
Norman used the ministry’s traffic law enforcement as an example of strong community engagement. In February, the ministry announced the creation of the Road Safety Unit, which targets certain areas of the city with saturation patrols.
The unit has since written over 16,000 quotes since February, but Norman said the ministry has focused on finding alternatives to this type of application. He said police officials were involved in an ongoing effort with Milwaukee City Court to find alternatives to citations, such as diverting an offender to driving lessons.
In September, the department announced a partnership with Advance Auto Parts, where police officers will have the option of issuing gift cards at the auto store, rather than quotes, when they encounter a motorist with a mechanical problem, such as a broken tail light.
“These are the discussions we are having proactively,” Norman said. “We don’t wait for someone to complain about what’s going on here.”
Norman supports the hiring of more officers, open to civilization
Responding to questions regarding increased response times and staff shortages, Norman said he was ready to embrace civility in order to place sworn officers in the best positions to serve the public.
The department has lost more than 200 sworn positions through attrition since 2019, forcing it to reassess where it places sworn and civilian staff.
He said he was not afraid to remove officers from specialist divisions, such as mounted patrols or tactical units, in order to adequately staff district locations, which he called a priority.
Norman said he supported hiring more police officers – an idea which has become more controversial in a post-George Floyd era – for the expertise and training they provide. But he said he was open to the growth of the department’s program for community service workers, who are unarmed and answer low-priority service calls.
“I really believe that we still need our sworn officers, but (I am) open to opportunities to reorganize the responsibilities within the department for civilians and to expand our opportunities as community service officers,” he said. -he declares.