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Acting Milwaukee police chief shares top priorities at Heal the Hood block party

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When you see police in your neighborhood, do you feel? How you answer that question depends on your lived experience. You might feel safe and protected, or you might feel the opposite -- even threatened -- by a police presence. So some participants might have been surprised to see the police at this July’s Heal the Hood block party, a community gathering focused on violence prevention for and by the community.

Heal the Hood Campaign Manager Jessica Butler said it’s rare for police officers to be invited into Black and Brown spaces. “The idea is that the community takes care of itself,” said Butler.

But at last month’s gathering, Milwaukee’s Acting Police Chief Jeffrey Norman walked the crowd and greeted community members personally. 88Nine’s Nate Imig briefly chatted with him to see if these types of gatherings make a difference in terms of safety. 

“When you understand who makes up your community, you're easier to support one another,” said Norman. “Events like this bring a familiarity with each other. We need to be able to know who makes up your neighborhood. We need to be out here, make ourselves available for the good and the bad so that we can be better moving forward.”

Along with being readily available for the community, Norman has a long list of priorities as acting police chief.

top priorities right now are to address the violence and also the reckless driving,” said Norman. “We still have a problem with conflict resolution coupled with firearm availability. We're always going to have conflict, but what are going to be the productive ways to resolve your conflict? How do we be a part of this conversation to have those teaching moments?”

Although community members might be hesitant to accept the support from the Milwaukee Police Department, Norman leaves us with one simple message.

"We are part of our community,” said Norman. “Not against, not above, not below. We walk with you.”

Heal the Hood will have a Back to School Block Party on 13th Street and Fond Du Lac Avenue on Saturday, Aug. 28.

Audio Storyteller | Radio Milwaukee