The Milwaukee Police Department faces the possible closure of an entire district as the city struggles with a budget crisis that could extend into the near future.
Next year, the city must deal with a $156 million budget shortfall, and that belt tightening could stretch beyond that, WISN-TV reports. City officials were asked this week to map out 25% budget cuts for their departments, and that would mean the police department would have to do without $75 million and over 400 employees for 2024.
In order to reach that goal, the department is putting all areas of operation under a fiscal microscope to see where any budgetary fat can be trimmed. One possibility would be to completely shut down the department's District 6, which receives the fewest number of police calls in the city.
Assistant Police Chief Nicole Waldner floated the idea of potentially eliminating the district during the city's Steering and Rules Committee meeting Monday. The "inevitable closure of District Six" also was outlined in a police staff memo obtained by WISN.
"Over my dead body," said Alderman Mark Borkowski about possibly shutting down the police district in the area he represents.
If District 6 is spared, the department could find savings elsewhere. A District 4 late shift on the city's northwest side and the department's Traffic Safety Unit that combats reckless driving also could be on the chopping block.
But any belt-tightening done for next year doesn't mean the city is out of the woods for 2025 and beyond. Painful cuts will need to continue unless Mayor Cavalier Johnson officials find alternative revenue streams for the municipality, such as a possible city sales tax, a measure that would need state approval before it could be put on a ballot for voters.
"The gloomiest days are ahead of us when really we should be building for the future," said Alderwoman Marina Dimitrijevic said .