Sunday, April 24, 2016

Stick-it-to-Milwaukee Walker defunded city crime-fighting tool

The Washington Post today offered readers a fascinating look at the gunshot sound-gathering/crime-fighting-computerized tool known as ShotSpotter
Last year, there were 165,531 separate gunshots recorded in 62 different urban municipalities nationwide, including places such as San Francisco, Washington, D.C., St. Louis and Canton, according to ShotSpotter, the company behind a technology that listens for gunfire's acoustic signature and reports it to authorities.
In addition to the program's instantaneous notification of gunshots to police officers on patrol, the data can be used to craft specific and community crime-fighting, life-saving strategies, for example:
The Urban Institute looked at gunfire near Washington schools during the 2011-12 school year. The policy think tank found four schools faced a disproportionate share of shots fired nearby, with nine to 11 each, and called for more study of how gun violence affects students... 
“We need more data like this,” [University of Virginia faculty member Jennifer] Doleac said. “It allows for a much better understanding of gun violence.”
Quite a tool, and one, you'd hope, that no one could politicize or contort into any sort of us-versus-them.

Wrong you are, Bucky, as the Walkerites spotted a way to use a cut in ShotSpotter funding to send a 'stick it to Milwaukee' message to the state's largest city.

The record shows that GOP Gov. Scott Walker and his party's legislators cut from his own 2013-'15 budget a state ShotSpotter grant for Milwaukee, as I noted at the time.
Hard to believe, but Gov. Walker and GOP budget-writers chose not to include a mere $445,000 in a $68 billion state budget to fund an electronic gunshot tracing system for the City of Milwaukee...
And please do not call this "pork."  It would have funded, at a modest level, a crime-fighting tool to help get guns and criminals off the streets. Pretty much Public Safety 101. 
If you want to talk about pork, look at the $5 million budget amendment - - that's twelve times the amount of the ShotSpotter grant - - somehow miraculously approved for the hometown of a Joint Finance Committee co-chairman to assist a business development center.
ShotSpotter: The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee rejected an attempt to restore $445,400 from a community policing grant for the Police Department's ShotSpotter program. Walker had not included the money in his budget...
A year later - - and who knows after how many diverted dollars, flying Milwaukee bullets, terrorized neighborhoods and subsequent fallen victims were left in the wake of his budget game-playing - - Walker signed a separate bill that provided a smaller sum of state funding for Milwaukee's ShotSpotter effort:
The Republican governor had proposed a budget last year that eliminated $445,400 in grants that police hoped to use to expand the program. Walker's administration considered the grants an earmark for a single city, according to a Legislative Fiscal Bureau report.  
Republicans who control the Legislature went along with the governor's  wishes, wiping out the money in the budget that took effect in July. 
Walker said he had no regrets about removing the money from the budget, but said he eventually changed his mind after he learned more about how the system works.    
In fact, if you didn't know the entire story, you'd think this headline told the whole story:
Walker signs extension of Milwaukee's gunshot sensor program
What Walker did was force the city and county to did into their heir already state law-limited funding and pay the difference - - as if locals aren't picking up enough of these costs already to make the entire state safer and more attractive to those business Walker says he's attracting.

He called it leverage. A better word is callous. 

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