Population: 577,222 in 2020

Type of government: City

Led by Leaders Igniting Transformation, youth in Milwaukee march in an effort to remove police from Milwaukee Public Schools. (Source: Claudio Martinez via Milwaukee Independent)

The 2020-21 budget cut 120 police officer positions, through retirement and other attrition. This is on top of the 2019-20 budget that cut 60 positions.1 However, the funding total for the department stayed nearly the same (although was about $20 million lower than what was requested by the police department), with savings from the cut positions going back into personnel costs, including increased benefits, pensions, and healthcare.2

In 2020, after years of advocacy by students, led by Leaders Igniting Transformation ( LIT ), the Milwaukee Board of School Directors terminated their contract with the Milwaukee Police Department, ending police providing most security to public schools.3

Now that the contract with Milwaukee police has been severed, the effort by LIT and others to win restorative justice in place of police in schools continues. Though the contract is canceled, Milwaukee high schools called the police hundreds of times in the first part of the 2021-22 school year.4 Meanwhile, state legislators in the Wisconsin Assembly proposed a bill that would require some public schools to hire armed officers.5

1  Alison Dirr, “Milwaukee Common Council Adopts 2021 Budget, Maintains Cut of 120 Police Positions, Fire Station Closure,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 6, 2020,

2  Brendan Cullerton, “Milwaukee Mayor Proposes New Police Budget with Virtually No Money Cut from 2020,” CBS 58, September 22, 2020,; Ryan Jenkins, “city Leaders Meet with Milwaukee Police to Discuss Proposed Budget Cuts,” TMJ 4 Milwaukee, October 14, 2020,

3  Madeline Fox, “Milwaukee Public Schools Terminates Police Contract,” Wisconsin Public Radio, June 19, 2020,

4  Corey Mitchell, “A school district defunded police. But it keeps calling them back in,” The Center for Public Integrity, December 14, 2021,

5  Rory Linnane, “Wisconsin Assembly passes bill that would break up Milwaukee Public Schools,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, February 22, 2022,