Amid a recent spike in some categories of violent crime, Gov. Tony Evers announced he’s directing $25 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds for violence prevention efforts and another $20 million for victim assistance.
“We’re working to build the future we want for our kids and our state, and that means working to address the cycle of violence and crime to ensure safe schools, safe streets, and safe communities,” Evers said in a statement yesterday. “This is another public health crisis that needs our attention and action, and like any public health issue, it starts with prevention.”
Of the $25 million slated for violence prevention, the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Violence Prevention Project will receive $6.6 million for research, education and community engagement, and another $10.4 million for a grant program to support violence prevention projects statewide.
The city of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention will receive $8 million.
The bulk of the $20 million to support victims will be allocated through a grant administered by the Wisconsin Department of Justice for organizations that provide victim services. Additionally, $100,000 will go to the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Evers originally included that funding in his budget proposal, but it was removed by the GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee.
The state GOP called the funding “too little, too late.”
“Tony Evers has had two years to combat a historic crime wave, but instead he emboldened criminals and allowed cities to defund the police,” state GOP spokeswoman Anna Kelly said in a statement. “Transparent attempts to do damage control right before his re-election year are too-little, too late.”
She also knocked Evers for vetoing a bill that would have reduced funding for municipalities that cut police funding.
The state has seen a recent increase in some categories of violent crimes, some of which had been on the decline.
For example, Department of Justice data from 2016 to 2020 show the state saw 230 homicides in 2016 before hitting a low during the period of 176 in 2018, then climbing to 302 in 2020.
Additionally, reported aggravated assaults have seen a large increase over the period, going from 10,754 in 2016 to 13,265 in 2020.
Reports of rape, meanwhile, have declined. The definition of rape for reporting purposes changed in 2017. That year saw 2,159 cases. Reported rapes rose to 2,340 in 2019 before falling to 2,024 in 2020.
See crimes stats statewide and by county here: