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Gun violence awareness; Milwaukee events promote safety

Gun violence awareness; Milwaukee events promote safety

With gun violence skyrocketing in Milwaukee, Mayor Cavalier Johnson declared Friday, June 3 National Gun Violence Awareness Day and asked people to wear orange throughout the weekend.

Saturday, photos of people who lost their lives to gun violence lined Sherman Boulevard.

“It’s really sad, and it’s hard because it’s really just a struggle when you just sit and think like: Wow, my son was killed,'” said Karin Tyler with Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention.

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Tyler lost her son in 2011. He was shot and killed during a robbery at his apartment. June is a hard month for Tyler; her son’s birthday was June 8.

“It’s an emotional time for me, and I don’t think people realize the different things that moms or families have to go through after everything happens, even years after,” she said.

Photos of gun violence victims line Sherman Boulevard, part of “Wear Orange” weekend

How to reduce gun violence is a topic many people have opinions about.

“We want to be out here to show support to the families, to show support for the community, but to also distribute gun locks to promote firearm safety,” said Vaynesia Kendrick, an adolescent suicide community outreach specialist.

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About five miles south of Saturday’s event along Sherman, Adam Campbell works as the director of training for Brew City Shooter’s Supply.

“There’s a lot of people that have guns that don’t know anything about them, and they get most of their information from movies or the media,” Campbell said. “To reduce gun crime overall, if you’re just putting that question, posing it to me like that, I would say the key is education, training.”

Brew City Shooter’s Supply

Back on Sherman Boulevard, people held up signs and wore orange Saturday. The city’s Office of Violence Prevention said it will continue to offer outreach events.

“We’ll have different organizations out in all types of communities every weekend doing this work,” said Tyler.

The “Wear Orange” event started seven years ago to honor a Chicago teen who was shot and killed.

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Remembering fallen officers: National Police Week events ahead

Remembering fallen officers: National Police Week events ahead

National Police Week starts Sunday, May 15. But there are many events taking place locally before that. 

The Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department has not experienced a line of duty death since 1978 – when two deputies were killed by an inmate inside the courthouse. But it was three years before this tragedy that the widow of a fallen officer set out to make sure no one grieves these losses alone.

Karen Herbert’s husband, Summit Police Officer Robert Atkins Jr. and his partner, Wayne Olson, were killed in the line of duty back in 1975.

“We had just gotten married – we weren’t even married three months. Didn’t have the wedding pictures back,” Herbert said.

It left a hole in Herbert’s heart that has been filled by determination.

“You can say, ‘Oh, woe is me. How did this happen?’ Or you can say, ‘This is what we can do to make things better in the community,’ which is what I’ve chosen to do,” Herbert said.

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Every year since, Herbert has helped coordinate Waukesha County’s Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Ceremony. It will be held at Fox River Christian Church on Thursday, May 12.

“It resonates for me personally, and I think it resonates for all law enforcement officers and their families,” said Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson.

Waukesha County Sheriff Eric Severson

Severson said throughout this career, he has lost four friends in the line of duty. He keeps a commemorative badge of one, Grant County Deputy Tom Reuter, on his desk as a daily reminder.

“I knew that police officers would lose their lives in this profession, but I never thought that I would know one,” Severson said.

Milwaukee police will also hold ceremonies. At the Wisconsin Center on Thursday, May 5, the anniversaries of four line of duty deaths will be remembered – including the ten-year anniversary of Wauwatosa Police Officer Jennifer Sebena’s death and the 2019 death of MPD Officer Mark Lentz.

“We are here to serve the community, and it’s important to remember them for the sacrifice that they did and for their families to know they are not forgotten,” said Efrain Cornejo, Milwaukee police sergeant.

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For the first time in two years, because of the pandemic, the Annual Mass of Blessing will return to the Basilica of St. Josaphat on Monday, May 9. 

Police encourage the public to attend all the events. 

  • Greater Milwaukee Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony: Thursday, May 5, 12:15 p.m., Wisconsin Center
  • Mass of Blessing: Monday, May 9, 6:30 p.m., Basilica of St. Josaphat
  • Waukesha Co. Law Enforcement Officers’ Memorial Ceremony: Thursday, May 12, 6 p.m., Fox River Christian Church

Herbert said the show of support helps departments across the country heal.

“If you’ve never been to a law enforcement memorial ceremony – it’s really an honor to be there,” Herbert said.

At the Waukesha County memorial, organizers plan to list the names of all 615 law enforcement officers who lost their lives across the country last year – including those who died from COVID-19.

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Dallas leaders want tougher penalties for unpermitted events after recent mass shootings

Dallas leaders want tougher penalties for unpermitted events after recent mass shootings

After two mass shootings at non-permitted events, the Dallas City Council wants to consider tougher penalties for landowners and promoters who don’t follow the rules.

There have still been no arrests in either mass shooting that left two people dead and dozens injured. 

The Dallas Police Department received seven calls for service before the deadly mass shooting at an unpermitted concert in Southern Dallas.

Dallas Police Chief Eddie Garcia said why the off-duty officers left the event without telling the supervisors about any issues brewing is still under investigation. 

“The issue really comes from us not knowing there was an event on the day of the tragedy,” he said.

The police chief told council members that the city needs an ordinance to crack down on promoters and property owners who hold large events, like the one on April 2, without getting permits. 

RELATED: No permit issued ahead of Dallas concert shooting that left 1 dead, 16 injured

It was an outdoor concert that became a mass shooting, leaving 16 people injured and one man dead.

Right now, the fine is between $500 and $2,000. For many, it’s a small cost of doing business. 

“If I’m getting paid thousands and all I have to do is pay a $2,000 fine, irresponsible landowners will take that bet every day,” Garcia said. “We need to come up with something that has teeth.”

Councilmembers agreed. 

“You say teeth. I say fangs. I think it needs to hurt,” said Councilmember Gay Donnell Willis. “I would like to see us look at something stronger and more punitive on use that when it turns out to be an unauthorized concert with death. What about criminal?”

“It’s something we will look into,” said city attorney Chris Caso. 

Councilman Tennel Atkins argued if DPD had more neighborhood police officers that they would hear about events like these in advance and put the city in a more proactive position.

“I think we have to build trust,” he said. “When we don’t have NPO officers, they don’t know what is going on. We are short NPO and patrol at South Central.”

RELATED: 18-year-old dies days after mass shooting at South Dallas spring break party

Chief Garcia said the city is short 17 neighborhood police officers right now. 

“There is not a week that one of my three stars is not asking to fill a position. There is not a part of this police department that does not need more support,” he said. “We would love to do more. We would love to have more NPOs because they do a tremendous job. But we need more officers answering 911 calls. We need officers investigating crimes.”

But it can’t be ignored that even the city’s own off-duty police officers working the event left before the shooting without giving a heads-up to supervisors that trouble may have been brewing. 

Dallas leaders working to stop illegal parties in wake of recent mass shootings

Monday, Chief Garcia said the issues surrounding that are still under investigation.   

“We are looking at everything that happened that night. From criminal to administrative to see where we could have done better and where we failed,” he said.

Police said the motive in both recent mass shootings is still unknown. The youngest victim was 13 years old.  One victim from the shooting last week is still in the hospital.