Unemployment, poverty seen as Milwaukee’s top crime causes

Majority of residents say they have considered moving out of city


Milwaukee residents cite unemployment, poverty and education as the leading causes of crime in the city and say more police and more job opportunities would most lead to increased public safety, according to results of the Common Council’s public safety survey.

Almost half, 48 percent, somewhat or strongly disagreed with the statement that they feel safe in their neighborhood when they go outside alone.

A majority of respondents in every aldermanic district said crime is such a serious problem in the city they have considered moving. Seventy percent citywide said they had given the idea consideration.

The percentage was lowest in District 3, which covers the East Side, at 51 percent. District 5, which covers a portion of the far northwestern portion of the city between Center Street and Bradley Road, was highest at 88 percent.

The survey was done at the request of Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton. It included 1,634 unique respondents, but did not utilize a scientific collection method. Legislative fiscal analyst Adam Wickersham said in a memo the results should be consider similar to public testimony at a committee or comments at a town hall meeting.

White respondents were over represented in the results with 65 percent identifying as non-Latino whites, compared to 44 percent for the city in general. Ten percent of respondents were African-American, compared to 40 percent in the city. Just 5 percent were Latino, while 17 percent of the city’s population is Latino.

The survey results also under represented male and younger residents, according to Wickersham’s memo.

Citywide respondents said carjacking was the greatest problem at 18.3 percent. Residential burglary was second at 14.8 percent and reckless driving was third at 12.7 percent. Muggings, gun violence, drug activity and disorderly conduct all received more than 5 percent.

Unemployment and poverty were listed as the top causes of violent behavior and crime at 21 percent each. Education was next at 16 percent.

A recent BizTimes cover story explored the challenges of bringing jobs and economic opportunity to Milwaukee’s inner city and a follow-up story examined efforts to lift educational attainment.

As for solving the city’s crime problems, 38 percent said more police would most lead to increased public safety and 94 percent said they support adding more beat cops in their neighborhood.

Other potential solutions included more job opportunities, chosen by 16.7 percent; increased youth activities, 12 percent; more traffic enforcement, 7.8 percent; more gun control, 7.5 percent, and removal of blighted properties, 2.1 percent.

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Arthur covers banking and finance and the economy at BizTimes while also leading special projects as an associate editor. He also spent five years covering manufacturing at BizTimes. He previously was managing editor at The Waukesha Freeman. He is a graduate of Carroll University and did graduate coursework at Marquette. A native of southeastern Wisconsin, he is also a nationally certified gymnastics judge and enjoys golf on the weekends.

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