July 29, 2008

More money for police, but churches must step up

City and county press conference on rising crime:
Zarzecki, Carlson, Nieskes, McReynolds, Wahlen and Becker

County and city officials presented a united front today, promising more resources to fight crime in Racine.

Mayor Gary Becker said the city will provide an additional $200,000 to cover Racine Police overtime; County Executive Bill McReynolds said the county will give $150,000 to County Sheriff Bob Carlson, who said it will provide an extra deputy, another criminal investigator and support staff for a "suppression effort." Mount Pleasant Police Chief Tim Zarzecki said the village will cover overtime for his forces to patrol the four-blocks on the east side of the village that abutt Racine's crime area.

"I want to relieve the fears of the community, which has been fed a steady diet of crime in the local media," said Racine Police Chief Kurt Wahlen. "I want to reassure the community: we have things under control. Members of the community should not live in fear."

Becker said, "I stand 100% behind this chief and the police force. He's been creative and aggressive."

McReynolds said, "Public safety is the No. 1 job of any elected official. Racine County will not tolerate lawlessness."

But the "six white men" - as one person in the audience referred to Becker, McReynolds, Wahlen, Zarzecki, Carlson and District Attorney Michael Nieskes - got into trouble with some in the audience of about 70. The press conference at City Hall got heated after the officials called one too many times for help from the "faith-based community," and more action within the African-American community.

Wahlen said, "The long-range solution: it's a community problem. The faith-based community must step up. Where are the African-American males?" he asked rhetorically, referring to a peace march he attended Saturday at which no more than a half-dozen of the 100 adults present were black. Becker, too, called upon the "faith-based community" -- PC code for black churches: "Others have a responsibility to provide opportunities, to give people hope."

Added Wahlen: "Good people do not steal from one another; good people do not shoot one another." He said, "We all have our part to do. Kids are not being taken care of; they're sleeping in their clothes on the floor, watching violent videos, playing violent video games." There's been, he said, "a breakdown of the family, no dad in the house. We need family and the faith-based community to solve it."

Journal Times reporter Janine Anderson asked, "Why lay so much on the faith-based community?" Wahlen responded, "Only a spiritual endeavor can change a heart. They need to step forward and put their money where their faith is."

Former District 1 alderman Keith Fair, who is now the local NAACP's political action chair, called Wahlen out on his statement that blacks must step forward. Wahlen replied, "It's a fact they're not stepping up to the plate." Fair responded, "We never call for those black men until there's an event like this. Don't make an indictment against this community."

The discussion also touched on poverty, joblessness and economics, and the culture of our times.

The chief said he saw the new Batman movie. It was good, he said, but part of "a very violent culture, a gun-toting culture."

Poverty and unemployment were major themes. A woman from Mount Pleasant spoke up and said, "We need jobs. You can't support a family on $5 and $6 an hour."

Becker replied, "There are 600 to 700 jobs posted at the Workforce Development Center." But they're not for the unskilled, as in years past, when he said hard work was enough.

"This is a brutal economy, and there's nothing I can do to change it," the mayor said.

But he insisted, "Crime is not kids stealing to help mom." And Wahlen noted, "We've not had anyone busted for going into a grocery store stealing bread."

Other points discussed:

Sheriff Carlson: "This used to be a rural county; no longer. We are going to redeploy a number of our patrol staff to the City of Racine. We cannot go on like this; it creates a climate that is unacceptable."

District Attorney Nieskes: "There are a lot of initiatives, a lot of efforts under way. Two shootings in one week: that really, truly is not the norm." But he said it's not as bad compared to '92-'96. "This is not something that occurred overnight; it took decades...and in two decades, the new mayor and county executive will still be dealing with the problem."

Chief Wahlen said, "Obviously, I'm not happy about the 2008 statistics." He said the crime stats are well above 2007's, "but that year was the lowest since 1967." robberies are on a six-year trend up, unemployment is up. But vehicle theft has dropped 40%, he said, "perhaps because people cannot afford gas."

He said he has been patrolling the streets, visiting neighborhoods where the latest shootings occurred. "I want to reassure the neighborhoods that these are not random acts." He pointed out that the two latest slayings started "behind closed doors." The implication was that police could not have prevented them.


  1. "...Don't make an indictment against this community."
    Why not? Why be timid about calling a spade a spade? It is silly to expect the "man" to solve this crime situation. It is up to each citizen - black & white, maybe especially black, to make more effort.

  2. Keith Fair is no more a leader in the Black community then my dog. Then too the NAACP in Racine is no more then a group of folks making excuses for the thugs who are killing fellow black with drugs and guns.

  3. I don't go to church, but I don't go around stealing, fathering kids I won't take care of, dealing drugs or shooting other people. This "holier than thou" crap kills me. Not that it would hurt, but it's not the end-all either.

  4. Chief Wahlen said, "Obviously, I'm not happy about the 2008 statistics." He said the crime stats are well above 2007's, "but that year was the lowest since 1967." robberies are on a six-year trend up, unemployment is up. But vehicle theft has dropped 40%, he said, "perhaps because people cannot afford gas."


  5. So the Sheriff and Mt. Pleasant's Chief come in uniform and there is Wahlen without a uniform with a blank look on his face. Does anyone else see that as maybe part of the problem Racine is not safe?

  6. Perhaps the National Guard in the pulpit might do some good.

  7. who are all you anonymous people? it gets confusing on these blogs thinking you're all the same person...

    or perhaps you are?

  8. It seems as if some people think that this is a primarily black issue as far as crime in the city. It also seems that these leaders think that blacks need to take more responsibility upon themselves. They also appear to speak as if they see themselves as superior to many of the blacks in the community which commit these crimes for a myraid of reasons.
    And, to an extent they are superior inasmuch as they are elected officials entrusted to care for the community. So, it's time for them to act like leaders and be superior and take charge of organizing in the black community with serious efforts. It's nice to see them use tax dollars for worthy reasons, but what about their personal wealth that was partly created by being paid from taxes? They all live financially comfortable lives. They should be footing the bill for some organizing events.

  9. "...and take charge of organizing in the black community with serious efforts. It's nice to see them use tax dollars for worthy reasons,.."

    So the whites should take cover the job of organizing in the black community? Why because your "leaders" like Keith Fair is useless like the Racine NAACP and the real leaders like Q.A. are too busy doing something other then getting in the newspaper?

  10. I said this in the JT blogs....We need to have the REAL BLACK LEADERS in Racine step up! Wahlen your RIGHT!!!! BLACK LEADERS...where are they? I know of several well known, well respected, upstanding, proud African American men who are sitting on the side lines. To me these guys are the leaders but none of them will stand up becuse the Black ministers want the lime light and the $$$$ $$$$$$$ - Just like Cohen said "I want some money too"

    1) Donnie Snow - Where are you?
    2) Chuck Tyler - Where are you?
    3) Art Howel - Where are you?
    4) Al Days - Where are you?
    5) The two African American exec's at J-Wax - Where are you?
    6) Mr. Thomas -Parks Football Coach - Where are you?
    7) Kevin Brown - Horlick's Principal - Where are you?
    8) Mr. Tim White - NAACP - Where are you?
    9) Unified has two African American men administrators in Central office - Where are you?
    10) Anyone OTHER THEN the normal , Turner,Fair,Shields,QA, the So called "religious ministers" and the black bar owners. Those guys are not black Leaders in this community.

    Not until these TRUE "African American Leaders" step up and take ownership of their community will this problem curb itself. Once Again Racine's African American Leaders WHERE ARE YOU?

    I wrote this yesterday and I think that the black community is looking at what can those people do for us... it should be what can we do for our self!

  11. Sylvia - you are no more or less anonymous than me. See your profile and picture. Sort of like calling the kettle black.

  12. We are all part of the Racine community, so whether you are black, white, Latino, etc, we ALL need to step up and take a role in making this community safer for EVERYONE. If one person is not safe, none of us are safe. What are YOU doing to make Racine better? And not just for you and your family, but for ALL families? Stop looking to everyone else...churches, black leaders, police...what are YOU doing? There is enough blame. That gets us nowhere. What can WE do as a COMMUNITY to ensure that OUR children are not afraid to play outside or walk to school???

  13. I think Nieskes spends too much time on the tanning beds. Spend a little more time in your office please. Thank you. A concerned taxpayer.

  14. How about getting social services out of our way and taking away criminal rights? How about making laws tougher so that is a deterrent, rather than a joke to get arrested? How about making jails jails, instead of social clubs with workout rooms and tvs? How about, here is a good one, lawyers with a conscience who don't defend someone they know is a murderer? How about the death penalty?
    I am sick of all this foo foo talk and no action. Racine, you want your city back? Then your officials need to toughen up, stop talking and start doing. These thugs are repeat offenders...what are they doing on the streets to begin with?? And thugs killing thugs?????........does anyone really care?

  15. It is VERY obvious what the problem is in Racine (city and county). Look at all the "leaders" in the picture and you will see the problem. They all have been "running" Racine (city and county) for decades one way or another. They are not new to Racine (city and county) but yet nothing gets done. That is the problem. Stop idolizing these "leaders" and find new ones who are willing to do more than pose for a photo op. Just watch, all these do nothing "leaders" will be doing and saying the same exact thing next year, and the next year, and so on.

  16. Good point about the "leaders" who have been running Racine for years. This should have been the year for change but we are stuck with the county ex and his best bud the mayor again.
    Also, stuck with Craig Oliver, Mike Shields, Keith Fair, and those "church" leaders whose names seem to come up a lot but never do anything. I think they chase away the people the previous poster referred to. I don't think professionals want to deal with the Olivers and Fairs of the world.