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As I See It

Being tough on crime more about just running scary ads



Many Republican candidates are running on the issue of personal safety. While Democrats hope to make the November election about abortion, Republicans are again relying on the “we’re tougher on crime” approach. Their tv ads show shadowy figures doing bad things while suggesting only their party can keep people safe. But we haven’t heard much in the way of details, just a campaign of fear. While it is true that crime has risen in Wisconsin, particularly violent crime, that is true in other states as well. So what can be done? Part of the problem is a shortage of police. Not only are there fewer officers patrolling the streets of the state, hiring new officers is proving exceptionally challenging. The La Crosse Police and Fire Commission says for positions that used to attract 100 applicants, they are now seeing closer to a dozen for a job opening. Many agencies are using promotional campaigns to attract more potential officers. Another problem is lack of funding. A 2020 report from the Wisconsin Policy Forum found Wisconsin ranks dead last among the states in percentage of state funding for law enforcement. Some departments, like La Crosse police, are sending crisis counselors with officers to deal with those in a mental health crisis, freeing regular officers to prevent and solve more crime. Accusing a rival candidate of being soft on crime is from a long-used playbook. Coming up with ways to reduce crime should not be a partisan issue. And when a candidate claims to be the one to prevent crimes, we also need to hear just how they plan to do that.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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