Wisconsin Citizens Deserve to Feel Safe – Column by Rep. Gae Magnafici
In recent years, Wisconsin has experienced a significant increase in crime—reports have shown that crime rates in parts of our state have spiked in recent years and at a faster pace than the rest of the nation. Milwaukee saw the most significant increase in homicides at 25% in the first half of this year—following a 70% increase in homicides in the city over the two years prior. Similarly, Madison broke its homicide record in 2020 and tied it again in 2021.
These staggering statistics, and the resulting concerns from Wisconsinites, are why Wisconsin Republicans spent this session working to protect our communities by providing more resources for our law enforcement agencies. The Legislature and I proposed increasing penalties for habitual offenders and violent criminals and providing law enforcement with the tools and funds to keep our communities safe.
The Republican legislation would have provided millions more for law enforcement agencies for training, equipment, recruitment, and retention of officers. It also funded part-time police academy programs and a law enforcement marketing campaign to reverse the low number of officers left to serve our communities. If not for Governor Evers’ vetoes, these bills would have helped combat our state’s dangerous and alarming shortage of police officers, which reached an all-time low this year.
Putting fewer resources into our law enforcement agencies, even where crime rises, will further jeopardize public safety. Wisconsin Republicans also sought to confront the dangerous “defund the police” agenda by passing legislation that would have penalized municipalities for defunding their police departments through a reduction in state aid. Unfortunately, Governor Evers sided against public safety and vetoed this bill that would have prevented further defunding of the police.
Wisconsinites feel less safe and are starting to avoid traveling to certain cities. I voted for legislation that established penalties for group theft, rioting, and damaging historical property to prevent disgraceful crimes like the tarring down of historical Statues of Wisconsin’s heroes and symbols. These bills addressed real, pervasive problems troubling our communities and would have created more accountability for criminals. After all, law-abiding Wisconsin citizens deserve to feel safe in their communities.