State AG to partner with local law enforcement on gun crime initiative

The Wisconsin Department of Justice will supply two assistant attorneys general to Milwaukee to help the city crack down on gun violence, according to an announcement made by state and local law enforcement agencies on Monday.

Plans for collaboration among agencies were announced during a press conference at City Hall as Attorney Brad Schimel joined Mayor Tom Barrett, District Attorney John Chisholm, Milwaukee chief Edward Flynn and Milwaukee County Department of Corrections regional chief Niel Thoreson to stand against gun violence in the city.

“Today, we declare war” on those who commit crimes with guns, Schimel said.

To combat gun violence in Milwaukee, a Memorandum of Agreement has been signed by the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office, the Milwaukee Police Department, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections and the Milwaukee Mayor’s Office.

“The principal intent of this MOA is to create a collaborative team of law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and other professionals whose primary focus is dealing with firearms-related violence and public health and safety matters,” the memorandum reads.

The effort was largely prompted by a spike in gun violence in Milwaukee, which has caused 86 deaths so far this year.

Barrett called the level of violence permeating the city “unacceptable,” directing a message of force to perpetrators.

“We are coming after you, and we are together,” he said.

The two assistant attorneys general that the Wisconsin Department of Justice will station in Milwaukee – detailed in the memorandum – will be based in the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office as part of a special unit dedicated to addressing firearm-related crimes. The assistant attorneys general will be responsible for helping investigate incidences involving firearms and prosecutions for those cases.

While the assistant attorneys general will be supervised by the district attorney’s office, the Wisconsin Department of Justice will have overall authority to oversee the positions. The Department of Justice will cover the salaries and benefits of the assistant attorneys general.

Additionally, the Department of Justice will ensure that $50,000 in federal Justice Assistance Grant funding is available to the Milwaukee Police Department for overtime expenses that stem from investigations conducted by the detectives fighting gun violence.

To further strengthen agency collaboration, the Milwaukee Police Department will assign at least 12 detectives to the unit that investigates and prosecutes firearm-related cases. The Milwaukee Mayor’s Office will also add to the collaboration with a senior representative who will attend meetings and direct city resources, such as the Milwaukee Police Department and the Milwaukee Department of Neighborhood Services.

The Wisconsin Department of Corrections will be involved in the collaboration as it assigns probation and parole agents to Milwaukee Police Department districts.

Together, the law enforcement agencies will begin working to establish goals and investigative and prosecution guidelines, according to the memorandum. The team will meet biweekly for the first six months of its collaboration, and then monthly, to review its impact on gun violence in Milwaukee.

The memorandum is effective until July 2017.

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