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Milwaukee Aldermen Call $10 Million COPS Grant Rejection ‘a Sign of Hope’

The Peoples Revolution lobbied against the grant and then celebrated its rejection. 

Despite the city’s massive homicide spike, nine Milwaukee aldermen are doubling down on their vote to reject a nearly $10 million federal grant to hire more police officers, claiming their action is a “sign of hope,” but the head of Milwaukee’s police union says the vote proves the city has a Common Council that “does not support the police.”

The People’s revolution, A BLM group, lobbied against the grant and passed out flyers to Milwaukee residents.

Even the mayor says the Council’s action will hurt crime victims.

The Milwaukee Common Council voted 8-6 (with one abstention) on December 16 to reject the federal grant that would have paid for 30 new police officers over three years. The grant became a hot topic of controversy about the philosophy of policing in Milwaukee after months of back-and-forth debate among the members of the Common Council some of whom advocate defunding policing in the city. The vote comes as the city has reached 202 homicide victims this year, according to the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner.

Milwaukee aldermen cops grant


The action also comes at a time that the MPD’s strength has already been on the decline. The city has about 1,680 officers, down 200 from four years ago. Next year, the city will lose 120 more officer positions. Through 2023, another 371 officers will become eligible for retirement.

Wisconsin right Now reached out to Milwaukee Police Association president Dale Bormann Jr., who said,

The refusal from the common council to accept this grant shows that the Common Council does not support the police. They don’t want to explain to the citizens how having 30 additional officers will protect them. They are more about having to explain why they accept it to community groups. By not accepting this grant I can see how this will hurt the city in more ways than just 30 officers.

In contrast, A Peoples Revolution leader, Khalil Coleman said,

EVERYBODY should be thanking The Peoples Revolution for the changes that’s happening systemically in Milwaukee.


But the aldermen painted their action in glowing terms, indicating they want to revisit policing in Milwaukee. If they have previously indicated they want to defund police, it appears they are trying to make that actually happen.

“Yesterday’s long and sometimes difficult conversation, perhaps overdue, was not a bad thing. It was a sign of hope,” the aldermen wrote, while making it clear that they don’t think the community trusts the Milwaukee Police Department. “It was a sign that a grant the City has accepted without question for decades would be made transparent and those who administer it would be made accountable.”

The aldermen called Mayor Tom Barrett “intemperate and counterproductive” and accused him of “posturing.” They said Barrett, in his response to the vote, sounded “a good deal more like an unsympathetic state legislator than an advocate for progress in his own City.” The mayor held a news conference in support of the grant, saying that rejecting it will harm crime victims who will see higher response times.

“I know there are philosophical battles that are happening right now about policing in America and policing in Milwaukee and these are important conversations, and they are a lively debate, but we should be able to have those same conversations without literally turning our back on $9.7 million,” Barrett said in the news conference.

The aldermen titled their December 16 press release, “It’s Not Just About 30 Police Officers.” Instead, they claimed the debate over whether to accept federal money to fund 30 police officers was about “generational change.”

The aldermen signing the press release are Alderman Ashanti Hamilton, Alderman Nik Kovac, Alderwoman Nikiya Dodd, Alderwoman Milele A. Coggs, Alderman Khalif J. Rainey, Alderwoman Chantia Lewis, Alderman José G. Pérez, Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic and Alderman Russell W. Stamper, II.

The action came as the city deals with historically high homicide numbers. Rainey had previously told Wisconsin Right Now that he was going to keep the grieving father of one innocent homicide victim in his district in mind when deciding how to cast his vote. But he ended up rejecting the funding.

The aldermanic press release was a lengthy diatribe against the state Legislature. “Some rarely miss an opportunity to speak quickly, one might say reflexively, when there’s an opportunity to criticize the City of Milwaukee,” they wrote.

The grant will come up for another vote in January.

The alderman say they’re concerned that, even though the cost of the 30 officers would be “free” for three years, “each one of them could easily prove a 25-year employee eligible for the elevated wages, benefits, and pensions.”

The aldermen claimed the extra cops could cost the city money because of the high cost of police misconduct lawsuits.

They claim they have to “face terrible decisions” about how to pay for public safety infrastructure.

The aldermen said that police misconduct lawsuits have cost taxpayers more than $34 million from 2016-2020.

They’re upset the state Legislature rejected their request for a sales tax and hasn’t given the city “the proper level of shared revenue.”

They even trashed the state legislators for rejecting federal Medicare assistance and a high-speed train.

The aldermen said they rejected the extra police because of the “voices that called all Summer, through the Fall, and who are still heard in the street, for a reevaluation of the City’s priorities and its approach to policing.”

Indeed, the Peoples Revolution, a group that has been linked to violence (such as one of its members being accused of discharging a gun at a police officer), sent out a flyer urging the grant’s rejection.

“De-militarization, re-allocation, ‘right-sizing,’ and a number of other important ideas can be summed up in one word: change. People can no longer accept a police department that takes so much and spends what it has in ways that they do not believe truly protect them,” the aldermen wrote.

Instead, they said people want “to see investment in intervention, mental health, de-escalation and non-violent responses to problems.”

The aldermen said they voted no to “assure ourselves and the community that there really is some hope for change. A great many in this City cannot abide the notion that this grant would only bring 30 more police officers into a department that has lost the trust of many.”

In the grant analysis, MPD explained, “The additional officers will allow our agency to sustain and enhance our community partnership and support initiatives, and also our government and community initiatives. Our department will be transformed with the additional officers because we will be able to create a strong pro-active community policing presence, strengthen our investigative process, and increase the skills of our officers by providing an adequate amount of access to quality training.



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