Memo to AP’s Bauer: Law Enforcement in Wisconsin is Local

By Sam Morateck of Media Trackers

It seems reasonable to hold mayors accountable for crime in their respective cities; law enforcement is a local responsibility. But is it logical to hold a governor of a state responsible for murder increases statewide when law enforcement is conducted on a local level and city murder rates drive the overall state rate?

Governor Scott Walker called out recently announced Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Madison Mayor Paul Soglin, in a Tweet about the increased homicide rate in Madison and loss of business, but the story was turned around by the media to point the blame back on the Governor.  Associated Press Statehouse correspondent Scott Bauer was one such source that flipped the story, pointing out that the statewide homicide rate has increased since Walker took office.

While the media outlets shift blame on Walker, it’s important to look at the breakdown of the homicides in the state. During the time Walker has been in office, Milwuakee has consistently had over half the amount of homicides reported in the state according to the DOJ, including more than 150 in 2015 and 2016, before seeing a decrease in 2017. Those numbers, of course, add to the statewide total.

Madison had a record setting ten homicides in the city last year, and according to the Wisconsin State Journal police are now concerned of gang activity:

 “It has become clear to Madison police and city officials that gang members — some of whom are carrying guns — now consider the 600 block of University Avenue, with its dense collection of bars and restaurants, part of their turf.”

While Walker is the governor, a city’s mayor directly oversees the police force and there, by extension, is responsible for the crime rate in his or her city. As a result, the statewide homicide rate is nothing more than the total of local municipality murder rates; not a number of which a governor can reasonably be held accountable.  So mayors like Soglin and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett should indeed be held accountable for the crime and murder rates in their respective cities.

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