One thing our new city attorney, Chris Smith, has focused on in his first six months on the job: working proactively to tighten some of our city ordinances to hold would-be lawbreakers more accountable and help our police officers better do their jobs.
Proof: Two changes to our municipal code passed at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
First, the council voted 8-0 to repeal and re-create Section 24.01 of the municipal code to adopt various state offenses as violations of our municipal ordinances.
Simply put, by doing what we did, police officers will now have the option of writing a ticket for various offenses, if the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office chooses not file formal state charges. These are the offenses can now be subject to municipal ordinance violations: unauthorized presence on school grounds, reckless use of a dangerous weapon, entry into a locked vehicle or locked coin box, identify theft and forgery, and various prostitution offenses.
Without passage of these ordinance changes, people who commit these crimes could face no consequences if the DA chose not to prosecute. Not anymore.
The council also passed changes to our ordinances requiring city licensees, including bar and liquor store owners, to cooperate with law enforcement investigation, or face penalties if they don’t.
In addition, the council recently passed changes to the truancy code that will give school officials the ability to recommend that a student be issued a truancy citation before the student is considered a habitual truant. This early intervention technique will stop students from ever getting to a habitual status.
I support all of these changes — reasonable enhancements to our code that may make would-be criminals think twice about breaking the law in our fair city. I thank Chris for driving this, in partnership with our police department, applying what he’s learned from other communities in how they approach these situations.
I’m told there will be more proposed changes to come. Good.