Tuesday, January 9, 2007


FACT: Crime in Milwaukee is out of control.

If Mayor Tom Barrett hoped that Nan Hegerty's retirement announcement, 11 months in advance, was going to the heat off of him to get a grip on crime in Wisconsin's largest city, he's wrong.

In 2006, bank robberies increased in Wisconsin by 13%. Not surprisingly, the most robberies occurred in the Milwaukee area.

From The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel:

In the state, most bank robberies still occur in metropolitan Milwaukee. There were 76 robberies in 2006 (up from 73 in 2005) in the area that includes Milwaukee, Dodge, Ozaukee, Washington and Waukesha counties, FBI spokeswoman Monica Shipley said. Thirty-three of them were reported as being solved by the end of the year.

More Milwaukee crime news:
A trio of masked robbers who shot and killed a man in a W. National Ave. bar Sunday night might be responsible for a string of holdups across Milwaukee's south side, police said.

Three teams of detectives were investigating the homicide and all the robberies Monday, said Deputy Chief Brian O'Keefe. No one had been arrested.

"We are looking at all of them," O'Keefe said. Detectives "are working it hard."

Police said they think the three men are responsible for more than a dozen armed robberies since Thanksgiving, said Anne E. Schwartz, department spokeswoman. There were three in November and two to four each week since, she said.

"They have really escalated," she said.

According to interviews with business owners, the gunmen operate roughly the same way each time: wearing masks; coming in at night, often around 10 p.m.; ordering people to the floor; and robbing the place and quickly fleeing.

Since November, three masked robbers have been running wild, with their raids on Milwaukee businesses escalating.
...On Sunday at 9:40 p.m., the robbers entered Marty's Party tavern in the 3700 block of W. National Ave. One of the men checked the back door, another a side room and the third demanded "the money bags," said Mardean Krogman, the owner.

"It had to have been someone who's been watching us," Krogman said.

Three people were in Marty's at the time: two female bartenders and Nicholas G. Knutowski, 49, a customer who recently started working there as a cleaning man. The robbers threatened the women, prompting Knutowski to charge at them, Krogman said. He was shot in the abdomen and arm, and he died at the scene. The robbers left without any money, she said.

Knutowski, who was single without any children, often helped out around the bar, Krogman said. She wasn't surprised to learn he stepped in to help the bartenders.

"To protect everyone here, he was that kind of guy," said Krogman, adding she has been told a restaurant in the area was robbed by a masked trio of men in the past six weeks.

At 9:45 p.m. Saturday, three masked men burst into a crowded Tenuta's restaurant, in the 2900 block of S. Clement Ave., and demanded money, said owner Frank Tenuta. One robber took a patron's wallet, jumped the counter and grabbed the cash register drawer, he said.

"They were in and out in 60 seconds," Tenuta said.

Police were on the scene in less than three minutes, but the trio was gone.

Tenuta said he figures the gunmen looked through the window and saw just two patrons sitting at the bar, not realizing the restaurant was full of dozens of patrons farther back.

Three masked suspects also robbed the Layton Heights bar, in the 4500 block of S. 13th St., at 10 p.m. Dec. 22, said owner John Puzia. The robbers ordered 30 people there on the floor. One of the robbers fired two shots into the ceiling, he said.

"These things aren't supposed to happen on this side of town," Puzia said, "but I guess they are now."

Puzia sums it up perfectly:
"These things aren't supposed to happen on this side of town, but I guess they are now."

Crime is encroaching, seeping into areas that were once considered safe.

In September 2006, Barrett declared that the city was not in CRISIS.

"There's a tale of two cities in Milwaukee," he said, repeating themes he's sounded in the past. "There are parts of Milwaukee that are doing very, very well right now. If you look at the downtown, the Third Ward, Brewers Hill, there's growth . . . but there are parts of the city and parts of the population in Milwaukee where a lack of jobs, hopelessness and lack of education rule the day."

This is the reality:

More and more, the crime problem can no longer be viewed as a tale of two cities in Milwaukee.

It's a tale of one lawless place, with violent crime seeping into what were once quiet neighborhoods.

Lifelong Milwaukee residents have stayed in the city because they've been happy in their homes and attached to their quaint, safe neighborhoods.

I think that era is over.

The city is dying.

The only thing that can save it is real leadership. It may even be too late for that.

I think Gov. Jim Doyle needs to pay a visit to his state's largest city and show some commitment to dealing with the CRISIS.

Oh, that's right. Doyle was just reelected. He has no need to assist, no need to try to get out the vote and show his face in Milwaukee. He can afford to abandon the city I suppose.

Doyle, solicitor-in-chief, should put as much effort into finding funds to put more cops on Milwaukee's streets as he puts into gathering cash for his campaigns and inaugural ceremonies.

When Wisconsinites elected Doyle to a second term, it was a mistake.

Electing Barrett to a second term would be a disaster.

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