Cities explore unarmed first responders, Wisconsin DOT rings on federal infrastructure plan

MILWAUKEE, Wisconsin (WBAY) – The state’s two largest cities are looking for ways to put unarmed first responders on the streets to handle calls that do not pose a threat to public safety.

Madison’s program will involve teams of paramedics and mental health professionals to respond to non-violent mental health calls.

Meanwhile, in Milwaukee, a task force will study unarmed responders for a wider variety of appeals.

On Sunday morning on UPFRONT, broadcast on WBAY-TV, Milwaukee Alderman Chantia Lewis spoke about the task force’s purpose and whether unarmed responders could improve public safety.

“They’ve been thrown into all of these other tasks that are outside of their scope and training. we shouldn’t expect them to do the work of a social worker, ”Lewis said. “You didn’t go to school to be a social worker. You went to school, or academy, to be an officer. So dividing up the tasks, I think that’s something that’s going to be beneficial. Not just for the community, but also for the agents.

The program says that if a social worker is potentially in a dangerous situation, they will send an agent to accompany the social worker.

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Also on UPFRONT, a member of the state Department of Transportation sounded President Joe Biden’s trip to Wisconsin earlier this week.

Biden, who visited La Crosse on Tuesday, pleaded for spending billions of dollars on new infrastructure.

The plan was negotiated with Republicans and would spend around $ 1 trillion to repair roads and bridges, as well as to invest in public transportation, water systems and broadband expansion.

Ahead of Biden’s visit, the White House pointed out that the state received a “C” rating on its 2020 infrastructure newsletter. CLICK HERE for more information and to view this report, which is written by the ‘American Society of Civil Engineers.

“We have 115,000 miles of roads in this state, and 90% are owned by locals. So they just have a lot of roads, and they have a long way to go. I think what is probably the most disappointing for me has probably been – as we have made progress in these areas and we have tried and offered increased funding for public transport – that we have not been able to to come to an agreement on and in some ways we have backed down and that is disappointing, ”said Craig Thompson, the secretary-designate of the Department of Transport.

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The DOT says there have been 375 road works projects in this last construction season, and if it makes more federal money, the state will see more projects develop.

As previously reported, the Biden administration listed how the package would invest in Wisconsin’s infrastructure as follows:

  • Roads and bridges: In Wisconsin, there are 979 bridges and over 1,949 miles of poor highway. The Framework will devote more than $ 300 billion to transforming our country’s transportation infrastructure, including more than $ 100 billion to repair roads and bridges.
  • Public transport: Wisconsin residents who take public transit spend 62.7% of their overtime commuting, and non-white households are 5.9 times more likely to get around using public transportation. The Framework will invest $ 49 billion in public transit.
  • Resilient infrastructure: From 2010 to 2020, Wisconsin experienced 42 extreme weather events, which cost the state up to $ 50 billion in damage. The Framework invests nearly $ 50 billion to improve the resilience of our infrastructure and support community recovery.
  • Drink water: Over the next 20 years, Wisconsin’s drinking water infrastructure will require additional funding of $ 8.6 billion. The framework includes a $ 55 billion investment to ensure that clean, safe drinking water is a right in all communities.
  • Broadband: Almost 14% of Wisconsin residents (including over 44% of rural Wisconsin residents) live in areas where, by one definition, there is no broadband infrastructure that offers minimally acceptable speeds . And 69% of Wisconsinians live in areas where there is only one such supplier. 14% of Wisconsin households do not have an Internet subscription. The framework will invest $ 65 billion to provide universal, reliable and affordable coverage for every family.
  • Clean energy jobs: In 2019, there were 76,685 Wisconsinites working in clean energy. The framework is the largest clean energy transportation investment in U.S. history and creates a one-of-a-kind infrastructure funding authority that will mobilize billions of dollars in clean transportation and energy clean.

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