Just over a week after a series of shootings took place near the Deer District in downtown Milwaukee, Gov. Tony Evers announced a $2.2 million investment in federal COVID-19 relief funds aimed at preventing violence in the city.
Part of the $2.2 million, which was allocated to the state through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, will go toward the installation of downtown security fencing that can be remotely raised and lowered, creating pedestrian-only zones in the city’s downtown entertainment districts during major events and weekends.
“Because it is a tool for crowd control, the plan is to deploy the fencing where crowds are currently assembling,” said Jeff Fleming, communications director for the mayor’s office. “I think the initial planning discussions have targeted areas such as Water Street where crowd control measures now include lots of temporary barricades.”
The Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) will also receive funding to purchase several pieces of equipment, including forensic workstations, night vision devices, air tanks, and a device that provides instant, on-scene ballistics analysis. A portion of funds will pay for overtime costs to have officers downtown this summer.
“Governor Evers has been a consistent partner in building a safer Milwaukee, and I appreciate this latest investment,” said Mayor Cavalier Johnson in a statement. “With technology and expenditures for officers, Milwaukee will improve our crime reduction efforts. This additional support fits well into our comprehensive public safety work.”
Following the series of shootings that took place May 13, Johnson’s office told BizTimes Media that “additional strategies” for curbing gun violence were being considered, some of which could be implemented in the coming days.
The $2.2 million will also assist MPD with hiring civilian contractors who will manage ballistics technology used to investigate gun crimes and the processing of sexual assault kits, freeing up MPD staff to help in other areas.