MKE mayor’s budget proposal cuts 120 police officers

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett would reduce the city’s police force by 120 positions in his proposed 2021 budget. Barrett is presenting the $1.5 billion budget to the Common Council Tuesday.

The police positions would be reduced through attrition. The mayor’s budget cuts about $430,000 from the police department’s current funding level.

The proposal follows the loss of 60 sworn police jobs in this year’s budget, which cut the department to about 1,800 officers.

The budget cuts follow calls nationwide to defund police amid the demonstrations and marches for racial justice.

“I have presented many budgets to the council and we have worked on them together, but this is by far the most sobering one because it’s really the year when our budget challenges have reached a pretty dramatic crescendo,” Barrett told the Journal Sentinel.

Barrett said the city was expecting a difficult budget year even before the coronavirus pandemic and economic fallout and the marches for racial justice.

Barrett’s budget would also make cuts to the city’s fire department, which could likely result in the closure of one fire station. There would be an additional fee for street lighting and a $10 increase in the wheel tax.