Cops Off the Street: Wisconsin at Risk Under Scott Walker, Mark Neumann Public Safety Plans

May 11, 2010

Cops Off the Street:

Wisconsin at Risk Under Scott Walker, Mark Neumann Public Safety Plans

MADISON – As crime continues to drop dramatically in Milwaukee under the leadership of Tom Barrett, who today received the endorsement of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, Republican gubernatorial candidates Mark Neumann and Scott Walker continue to advance plans for massive public safety layoffs that would remove hundreds of police from Wisconsin’s streets.

Both Walker and Neumann favor tax cuts of $1.8 billion for the wealthiest one percent of Wisconsinites and for corporations already enjoying some of the lowest taxes in the nation. Their craven $1.8 billion giveaway would add to a projected $2 billion deficit.

The only way to make up that deficit? Massive layoffs of police, firefighters and teachers, putting Wisconsin in peril.

“At a time when police departments around the state are just making do to keep crime out of their communities, Scott Walker and Mark Neumann want massive layoffs to fund giveaways to their fat cat contributors,” Democratic Party of Wisconsin Chair Mike Tate said Wednesday. “Both have a history of ineptness and reckless indifference when it comes to keeping the public safe. As governor, either would continue that shameful record.”


Mark Neumann

·         Neumann Voted To Dismantle COPS Block Grant In 1995. In 1994 Clinton passed his COPS Block Grant program that sought to put 100,000 more officers on the street as part of a major crime bill.  In 1995 Republicans successfully passed a spending bill that essentially dismantled Clinton’s cops-on-the-beat program in addition to other programs.  Neumann voted for this spending bill. This specific vote was on the House-Senate compromise version of this legislation. (HR 2076, “Commerce, Justice, State and the Judiciary Appropriations for Fiscal Year 1996”, Roll Call Vote: 841, taken on 12/6/95)

·         Neumann Voted Against The Original COPS Program. It appears that House Republicans originally voted to eliminate Clinton’s COPS program in a 238-192 party-line vote on 2/14/95.  Mark Neumann voted for this early stage effort against the COPS program. (HR 728, “Local Government Law Enforcement Block Grants Act of 1995”, Roll Call Vote: 129, taken on 2/14/95)


Scott Walker

·         Milwaukee County House of Corrections Escape, Overdose Due to Officers Burned Out Working Mandatory Double Shifts. In August 2007, a House of Corrections inmate escaped from the facility and two months later, an inmate overdosed on unauthorized prescription drugs. County Supervisor Mark Borkowski said the guards were not to blame, “the elephant in the room is the staffing… [officers] are getting burned out. They’re working mandatory double shifts. Something’s got to give.” (TMJ4, “Neighbors Want Answers after Jail Escape,” 8/5/07; “Escapee’s Plan Detailed in Letter,” 8/8/07; “House of Correction Adds More Security,” 8/07; Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Inquest sought in inmate’s death,” 11/29/07)

·         Scott Walker Continually Attempted to Cut Full Time Employees at House of Corrections, Failed to Fill Funded Positions. Walker responded to his cuts being returned to the budget by simply not filling large amounts of those positions. In 2007, 38 positions were funded but unfilled, but then in 2008, 56 total positions were left empty. The an audit of the system called it a “vicious circle of mandatory extra shifts, burnout and runaway overtime payments at the Milwaukee House of Corrections in Franklin.” (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Guards’ overtime mounts,” 6/30/07 and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Guards’ overtime mounts,” 6/30/07 and Milwaukee County, “Report on Vacant and Funded Positions – Revised,” 10/17/08)

·         Sheriff Takeover of House of Corrections Fixed Problems in 4 Months. In December of 2008, the County Board voted to give control of the facility to the Milwaukee County Sheriff.  It was reported in April 2009 that after only 4 months of being in charge, the Milwaukee County Sheriff was able to improve many of the problems that plagued the facility.  They reported that security was tighter, overtime had been significantly reduced and training had improved. (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Sheriff cleans House to address audit’s critiques,” 4/10/09)

·         Sheriff Clarke Called For Wackenhut Bus Security Audit Following Bus Violence. In 2007 Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke called for the County to audit the private security provided by Wackenhut on Milwaukee County buses.  Clarke stated that the private company was doing a poor job despite its nearly $1 million-a-year contract with the County.  The story notes that Walker “could not be reached for comment…” The Milwaukee County audit found that the private security guards spent less than 3% of their time actually riding buses, only a small fraction of the 85% rate that the firm pledged to do when it won a 2003 contract.  (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Audit bus security, sheriff urges,” 12/19/07 and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “Transit guards spend little time on buses,” 3/4/09)