Milwaukee – During the press conference outside the Milwaukee branch of the Wisconsin State Crime Lab, Fond du Lac County District Attorney and candidate for Wisconsin Attorney General Eric Toney; spoke alongside Andrew Wagner, Acting President of the Milwaukee Police Association, and Mark Sette of the Wisconsin Fraternal Order of Police. Wagner and Sette highlighted the Toney’s endorsements from the Milwaukee Police Association and Wisconsin Fraternal Order of Police and their support for Toney’s “Safer Streets, Safer Homes” plan to deal with the unprecedented number of homicides and drug crime in Wisconsin’s biggest cities, crime bleeding across Wisconsin from Milwaukee, as well as various proposals to get the state crime lab back on track.
Saying the time to end this homicide and drug epidemic has begun, District Attorney Toney called the “Safer Streets, Safer Homes” plan a return to focusing on traditional law enforcement tactics with proven track records of success – not political posturing and defunding the police rhetoric – common among the Madison progressive elite current Attorney General Josh Kaul calls his political allies.
The “Safer Streets, Safer Homes” plan contains a number of key elements many Wisconsinites see as “Common Sense Policing.”
1) More – Not Less – Cops and Prosecutors; fundable by the billions in COVID relief funds the state of Wisconsin is sitting on. Meaningful funding which should go towards more police and prosecutor staffing and resources, not whatever Governor Evers believes will help in his re-election campaign. Law enforcement and prosecutors are under resourced and understaffed and Governor Evers must provide adequate funding and get serious about public safety.
2) Fill Vacant Prosecutor and DCI positions – DOJ needs to fill vacant prosecutor positions and DCI positions. Currently only 88 out of 113 DCI Agent positions are filled. DOJ must fill the vacant prosecutor positions and seek authority to hire additional criminal prosecutors who work with local law enforcement and district attorneys; additional hiring at the state crime lab must be done to deal with the delays in testing DNA and other evidence despite a 30% decrease in the number of items being tested.
3) DOJ Must Obtain Original Criminal Jurisdiction within Milwaukee County – With proper legislative approval, DOJ can better work with Milwaukee County law enforcement and prosecutors to handle the mountains of pending cases the county is waiting to bring to court. By protecting Milwaukee, we protect all of Wisconsin because Milwaukee violence bleeds across Wisconsin.
4) Implement Mandatory Minimums for Violent Crimes
This ensures dangerous criminals will remain behind bars protecting our communities.
5) Revise Wisconsin’s cash bail system, including Wis. Stat. 969.035 so dangerous criminals can be held without bail and require judges to consider factors in ensuring defendant’s appear in court.
Current law requires cash bail only for ensuring a defendant is likely to appear in court. The legislature must define in statute what this means to require judges to consider these factors when bail is set such as:
- The nature/gravity of offense
- Potential penalties
- Mandatory minimums, if any
- Number of open/pending cases and number of charges
- Prior arrests and convictions
- Ties to the community
- Employment/work history
- Stabilizing factors such as controlled substance/alcohol use
- Risk to the community
- Open or pending criminal cases
- Criminal history of the defendant
The legislature must also modify the statute allowing criminals to be held without bail as it is currently unworkable. Required changes to the statute include:
- Requiring the bail hearing and preliminary hearing to be on the same date.
- Requiring the rules of evidence to conform to preliminary hearing rules.
- Removing the case from the “speedy trial” calendar of the court.
- A safeguard requiring the court to review bail at minimum every 90 days to ensure the rights of the accused are protected.
Toney, Wagner, and Sette believe this plan can be a vital first step in reducing Wisconsin’s violent crime and drug numbers. Numbers which have exploded under Josh Kaul’s tenure as attorney general. Milwaukee alone has seen the number of homicides reach record-breaking levels for the past few years. Already in 2022, Wisconsin’s largest city has seen 70 homicides; 19 more than at this time last year.
These are trends which need to be reversed. As the Badger State’s next attorney general, District Attorney Toney will work with local police and prosecutors to make Wisconsin’s streets feel safe again.