While Wisconsin is known for its famous cheese, beer, and football, unfortunately, it also has a troubling side. A number of cities in the state are struggling with high crime rates, and according to the latest FBI crime data, Milwaukee, the largest and most populous city in Wisconsin, is the most dangerous city in the state for 2023. This unsettling title is due to the city’s alarming per capita rates of violent and property crime.
Violent Crime in Milwaukee
The category of violent crime includes some of the most heinous offenses such as murder, rape, robbery, and aggravated assault. Shockingly, Milwaukee witnessed a whopping 15,937 violent crimes in 2021, with a rate of 1,586 per 100,000 inhabitants. This rate is significantly higher than the national average of 366 per 100,000, and it’s more than three times the state average of 472 per 100,000. The numbers are alarming, and it highlights the need for urgent measures to tackle the issue of violent crimes in Milwaukee.
According to recent statistics, Milwaukee has the highest murder rate in Wisconsin, with 189 homicides recorded in 2021, equivalent to 19 per 100,000 residents. This figure is alarmingly six times higher than the national average of 3 per 100,000 and a staggering nine times higher than the state average of 2 per 100,000. Additionally, Milwaukee is grappling with soaring rates of rape, robbery, and aggravated assault, placing it among the top five cities in Wisconsin for each of these categories.
Property Crime in Milwaukee
When we talk about property crime, we refer to various offenses including burglary, larceny-theft, motor vehicle theft, and arson. Milwaukee reported a total of 31,075 property crimes in 2021, which brings the rate to 4,187 per 100,000 residents. Interestingly, this figure is slightly higher than the national average of 4,060 per 100,000, but it falls just below the state average of 4,215 per 100,000.
In 2021, Milwaukee continues to maintain its notoriety for having the highest motor vehicle theft rate in Wisconsin, with a staggering 7,414 incidents reported. This translates to a rate of 789 per 100,000 residents, highlighting the need for increased vigilance and security measures among vehicle owners in the city.
According to statistics, Milwaukee experiences an alarming rate of violent crime with 769 incidents per 100,000 people. This rate is more than three times higher than the national average of 229 per 100,000 and more than four times higher than the state average of 180 per 100,000. Furthermore, the city is struggling with high rates of burglary and larceny-theft, which places it among the top ten cities in Wisconsin for both of these property crime categories.
Why is Milwaukee So Dangerous?
Milwaukee’s high crime rates stem from a variety of factors.
Poverty: A poverty rate of 25.4% plagues Milwaukee, surpassing the national average of 10.5% by more than double and exceeding the state average of 8.1% by over triple. Individuals often resort to illegal activities to cope with their challenging circumstances, creating a strong association between poverty and crime.
Segregation: Milwaukee is among the most racially segregated cities in the United States, with significant disparities in living conditions and opportunities between white and black residents. This segregation fosters social isolation, discrimination, and resentment, all of which contribute to violence and crime.
Gangs: A substantial gang problem confronts Milwaukee, with an estimated 10,000 gang members belonging to over 130 different gangs. These groups engage in various criminal activities, including drug trafficking, robbery, extortion, and murder, perpetuating an environment of fear and intimidation among residents and rival gangs.
Drugs: Milwaukee functions as a major hub for drug trafficking and consumption in the Midwest, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). It serves as a source city for various illicit substances distributed throughout Wisconsin and neighboring states. Drug abuse and addiction can lead to health problems, mental disorders, and criminal behavior.
Reducing Crime in Milwaukee: The Efforts Being Made
Milwaukee may have a high crime rate, but the city is not giving up on safety. Various initiatives have been put in place to tackle the issue and make the city a safer place.
Community Policing: The Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) actively adopts a community policing strategy with the goal of fostering trust and cooperation between law enforcement officers and residents. This approach actively engages the public through outreach programs, neighborhood meetings, problem-solving initiatives, and partnerships with local organizations, with a strong emphasis on crime prevention.
The City of Milwaukee actively launches a violence prevention plan known as “The Blueprint for Peace,” actively outlining six goals and 30 strategies to address the root causes and effects of violence in the city. This involves active collaboration with various stakeholders, including government agencies, community groups, faith leaders, businesses, schools, and healthcare providers. The plan also actively prioritizes youth empowerment, trauma-informed care, and restorative justice.
The MPD actively implements various crime reduction initiatives targeting specific crime types and offenders. This includes the Homicide Review Commission, which actively analyzes homicide cases to identify patterns, trends, and risk factors. Additionally, the MPD has actively established a Robbery Task Force focusing on the identification and apprehension of serial robbers. Active collaborations with the FBI, DEA, and other law enforcement agencies are in place to actively combat gang and drug-related crime.
Milwaukee earns the disconcerting distinction of being the most dangerous city in Wisconsin, characterized by high per capita rates of violent and property crimes. Its crime problem is a result of several challenges, such as poverty, segregation, gang activity, and drug issues.
Nevertheless, Milwaukee is taking proactive steps to address these challenges and enhance safety through initiatives like community policing, violence prevention, and crime reduction. The city has the potential to evolve into a safer and more prosperous community if it can overcome its obstacles and make the most of its strengths.