People have overwhelming come out to say: we want fewer cops, and more investment in people and communities. But right now: our work is at risk!
Politicians in Milwaukee are making decisions that will either continue the city’s carceral and white supremacist approach to public safety, or depart from it to invest in people and communities. This is a time when we need the whole city talking about the budgets, and particularly about defunding police. If you haven’t contacted your local representatives yet, on both the city and county level, now is the time.
What’s at stake this week:
195 more cops. Mayor Tom Barrett proposed three police recruit classes of 65 cops each, which will cost Milwaukee $6 million. Common council will approve it next Monday unless we stop them.
Harm reduction in the jail and house of corruption (HOC). A committee of the county board is hearing a resolution about giving people held in the jail and HOC free phone calls and video visits on Friday, October 29, at 10:30am.
$3 million increase for county sheriff’s office (MCSO). County exec David Crowley proposed raises for MCSO staff, but the county board can shut him down.
$700,000 for lakefront surveillance. Crowley also proposed a system to expand MCSO surveillance and violence on the lakefront.
Divesting $11.3 million MCSO. County board members introduced 24 amendments that will take money from the sheriff and put it into human needs and real public safety.
Sheriff Earnell Lucas and his toady Ted Chisholm have been teaming up with private companies to exploit Milwaukee families for years. We can make them stop! At the county jail and house of corruption (HOC) people who want to talk to their families or eat halfway decent food need to use services provided at exploitative rates by private companies, who kick some of their profits back to Lucas and Chisholm at the county sheriff’s office (MCSO).
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[UPDATE: the finance committee meeting was postponed to Monday July 26, because of a sport, and Chisholm’s newest report has appeared. ]
Milwaukee county sheriff, Earnell Lucas has been breaking the law for the last few months. County ordinance 56.02 requires that government agencies with projections of a “deficit of at least one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) or an overtime deficit of at least one million dollars ($1,000,000.00)” must file a report that “shall include the reasons for the anticipated deficit, as well as a recommended plan of action or alternatives to offset such deficit.” Earnell Lucas has exceeded the $3 million sheriff’s office (MCSO) overtime budget by at least three times a million every year, without filing adequate reports as required, by law.
As abolitionists, we don’t much care for laws, but we also despise law enforcement hypocrisy. We have found that, when it comes to following, rather than enforcing them, cops and sheriffs don’t much care for laws either.
On Thursday, June 24, the Milwaukee County Board will vote on creating 3 new deputy sheriff positions using $300,000 from the county mental health budget. These funds are coming in connection with the Crisis Assessment Response Team (CART) program, which replaces a deputy sheriff with a mental health professional on calls relating to mental health crises.
Please contact your county supervisor (find them here) to demand they oppose the creation of new deputy sheriffs using mental health dollars. When calling, express support for the CART program because replacing deputies with mental health clinicians on mental health calls reduces the risk of people in crisis being assaulted, arrested, and incarcerated. However, it is inappropriate and absurd for the sheriff’s office to use a program that replaces sheriff deputies with clinicians as a reason to take money from the mental health budget to hire more sheriff deputies.
[UDPATE: The meeting happened Thursday June 17. Jason Haas put these items at the very end of the 31-item agenda, requiring everyone who wanted to testify to wait on the phone 7 hours for the chance. Only Ryan Clancy’s proposed right to council for eviction defense had as many public testimonies, Haas scheduled that as item 25. It passed. Haas also tried to invoke parliamentary rules to silence Clancy on the CART program. When that failed, he invented new rules. Willie Johnson Jr took over chair duties during the discussion of sheriff overtime. He refused to acknowledge at least one of the submitted eComments because it brought up the spurious origin of Ted Chisholm’s position as MCSO chief of staff. We’d counter that Chisholm gaining his position through nepotism and cronyism seems directly related to his inability to write an acceptable report.
The votes: – For CART, only Clancy and Sequanna Taylor voted against creating three new sheriff positions. Chisholm brought in sheriff Lucas and Michael Lappen from BHD, who convinced the rest of the board that CART could not happen without giving MCSO $300,000 to add three deputy sheriff FTEs to the list of vacant deputy sheriff positions they cannot fill because so few people want to be deputy sheriffs.
-For overspending, Chisholm’s report was again rejected because the only “solution” to overtime overspending he proposed was everyone giving them more money. The vote was close: Clancy, Taylor, Liz Sumner, and Joseph Czarneski were in favor of rejecting the report. Haas, Johnson Jr, and Shawn Rolland wanted to let Ted Chisholm and MCSO off the hook.]
The people of Milwaukee want less of our money going to law enforcement, but county officials are letting sheriff Earnell Lucas rake it in. Unsatisfied with their generous budget, the Milwaukee county sheriff’s office (MCSO) has a habit of overspending on overtime. They’ve also worked to take in money allocated for mental health and tried to control the shift to more humane and effective approaches to public safety. Amidst all this resource-hoarding, Lucas is also working to silence his most vocal critic on the county board.
Milwaukee’s county sheriff’s office projects they will spend double their projected budget on overtime. A report from the sheriff’s office states that “Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) estimates 2021 overtime to be $7,800,000 which is $3,892,860 over the 2021 adopted budget of $3,907,140 or 100% of budgeted dollars.”