WEST ALLIS — To try to keep violent crime from overflowing from Milwaukee into West Allis and other neighboring communities, two area Republican legislators have introduced a package of bills aimed at keeping violent and habitual offenders off the streets.
"In our quest to rehabilitate all offenders, we need to acknowledge that some criminals will not alter their behavior — specifically, those who commit violent acts," State Senator Leah Vukvir (R-Brookfield) and State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin), who both represent portions of West Allis, said in a joint statement.
At a news conference held Thursday, April 13, at the West Allis Police Department satellite station, three Milwaukee aldermen threw their support behind the bills. They are Bob Donovan, Mark Borkowski and Tony Zielinski. They said they were especially concerned about the increase in carjackings in their city.
Sanfelippo said in a news release: “Recent stories have shown us once again that our justice system is failing to protect innocent citizens from becoming victims of crime.”
For example, a Milwaukee city employee was murdered during an attempted carjacking by three people with extensive criminal records, the legislators said in the joint statement. “One of the three individuals charged with this heinous crime was arrested multiple times on gun-related charges yet our criminal justice system allowed this violent felon to remain on our streets which contributed to the murder of Mr. Zyszkiewicz,” Sanfelippo said.
The legislators also point to a judge refusing to waive a 15-year-old into adult court, despite his fingerprints having been found on 22 stolen vehicles.
Sanfelippo said the eight bills introduced so far were the result of two years' worth of work involving meetings with judges, district attorneys, police officers and others.
Sanfelippo said some offenders "are only going to learn through stiff penalties."
26 arrests each
For example from Jan. 1, 2007, through Dec. 31, 2016, a total of 102 people were arrested 945 times for a total of 2,628 crimes, the Republican legislators said, based on data from the Milwaukee Police Department, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Justice.
Unlike many Milwaukee County communities, West Allis did not see an increase in carjackings, said Deputy Chief Robert Fletcher. To his knowledge, there has been just one attempted carjacking so far this year, he said.
The city did see more homicides, however, last year. There were six, compared with one each in 2015 and 2014, he said. There have been two so far this year, he said.