MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The number of police officers in Wisconsin’s largest cities declined over the past decade, while the violent crime rate went up, a report released Friday by the nonpartisan Wisconsin Policy Forum showed.
The data run contrary to national trends. Although the number of officers in major cities has dropped at the same 3% rate as seen in Wisconsin, violent crime in all U.S. cities also went down by double digits between 2008 and 2017, the report said. Violent crime rates dropped in all U.S. cities dropped by 14.4%, but went up 24% in Wisconsin’s 10 largest cities.
The Policy Forum stressed it was not suggesting there is a link between the drop in officers and the increase in violent crime. And although violent crime in Wisconsin’s largest cities became more common this past decade, the rate of all crime in the 10 cities dropped more than 28%.
Many Wisconsin cities are grappling with how to pay for additional officers in the face of other pressing budget needs. In Milwaukee, the city’s 2020 budget cuts 60 police officers. And the Madison budget adds three officers, short of the 12 sought by the chief.
The report showed that seven of the 10 Wisconsin cities had fewer sworn officers per 10,000 people in 2018 than in 2008. That drop came despite population growth in all of the largest cities except Racine.