Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News last week.
Two facts have become very clear this election year. First, crime is a huge priority for Wisconsinites. Second, crime is not a priority at all for Gov. Tony Evers.
Since Tony Evers took office, crime — particularly violent crime — is way up in Wisconsin. Reviewing the crime statistics compiled by Wisconsin’s Department of Justice tells a tragic story. In comparing 2018 (the last year before Evers took office) to 2021 (the last full year), there were 82% more murders in Wisconsin, 16% more aggravated assaults, and 111% more vehicle thefts.
Even more tragic, while murders were up by 82%, arrests for murder were only up 15%. And while aggravated assaults were up by 16%, arrests for aggravated assaults were down by 4%. We have more violent crime, and we are arresting fewer of those violent criminals.
The vast majority of the rise in crime is coming from Milwaukee. The crime in Milwaukee made national news last Friday when 21 people were shot near the Deer District after the Bucks game. The violence prompted the Bucks to cancel the planned watch party in the Deer District for game seven of the series. Sadly, such violence is only slightly worse than what has become a normal weekend night in Milwaukee. It would be easy to dismiss the crime in Milwaukee. After all, citizens of the city of Milwaukee made it clear in the last mayoral election that they are unconcerned with the crime. They had a clear choice to elect a pro-law enforcement crimefighter and picked the other guy instead. But Milwaukee remains an economic and cultural nexus of the state. What happens in Milwaukee impacts all of Wisconsin. Despite the rising crime that is eating the core of Wisconsin’s largest city and spreading to other communities, Evers has made it clear that fighting crime is not a priority. After each heinous crime, Evers tweets the requisite sympathies and admonitions to behave, but does nothing.
After a monster with a history of violent crime and racist online rants was freed on $1,000 bail in Milwaukee two days before careening through the Waukesha Christmas Parade killing six and injuring dozens, Evers shared the appropriate sentiments and did nothing. Evers did not even admonish Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm for recommending a trivial bail, nor did he use his power as governor to remove Chisholm from office. Chisholm’s office has a history of coddling violent criminals, but Evers supports Chisholm’s policies.
After the shootings in Milwaukee last week, Evers once again took to media outlets to express his sorrow and outrage. And once again he is not acting to make any changes to keep it from happening again. Evers’ lieutenant governor, Mandela Barnes, who is also running for U.S. Senate, tweeted about the need for gun control — the old hobby horse of totalitarians throughout modern history — without even bothering to give any specific policy prescriptions.
In each of Evers’ budgets, he failed to offer any policy initiatives to reduce crime. Instead, under the label of “criminal justice reform,” Evers proposed spending more money on education and training for crooks in jail. He campaigned on closing the juvenile facilities of Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake, but four years later, they remain open waiting for a better solution for Wisconsin’s young criminals. Evers is consistent in advocating to legalize marijuana as a means of reducing crime, but such policies are more about appeasing college kids and crusty hippies. Nowhere in Evers’ budgets is there anything designed to lock up more criminals, empower law enforcement, or compel district attorneys and judges to conduct themselves with the rigor and vigor that justice and victims deserve.
Safe behind the walls of his taxpayer-provided mansion with armed guards escorting him wherever he goes, Governor Evers has consistently demonstrated disinterest in the explosion in violent crime that is wrecking lives and destroying the quality of life in the state. Wisconsin needs a new governor who cares more about victims than criminals.