GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) When it comes to crime statistics in the City of Green Bay, the overall crime rate may be in decline. But another continues to surge, gun violence. Kris Schuller says for law enforcement, both locally and at the federal level, that is a cause for concern which they are committed to address.
“Any time someone shoots a gun in the City of Green Bay it’s a concern for me,” said Chief Andrew Smith.
For Smith, gun violence is a growing concern.
“I see guns getting confiscated every week, a couple a week,” he said.
Guns perhaps used to commit a robbery, to settle a grudge or to take a life, as happened in five of six homicides in the city this year.
“In these particular cases the individuals all knew each other,” said Chief Smith.
And now Smith is fighting a surge in shots fired incidents, looking to stop those involved before more are injured or killed.
“Right now, the big concern is that people are shooting guns at each other or cars or houses or apartment buildings,” he said.
Police say there have been 48 confirmed shootings in the city this year. One taking place here at 9th and Ashland last Wednesday, where shots were fired into a car, injuring two people. Police say that led to a second shooting later that night where 15 shots were fired into a vehicle, with one person injured.
“The spike in violence that we see in Green Bay can be attributed to a small group of individuals, fewer than a couple dozen. These shootings are back and forth, somebody shoots up somebody’s car, somebody gets mad about that and shoots up somebody’s house,” said Chief Smith.
Through the end of August overall crime in Green Bay is down almost 9 percent, compared to the same time period in 2019. But when you break out violent crime, where homicides have doubled and aggravated assaults have climbed, the increase is nearly 7 percent.
A surge of gun violence that now has the U.S. Department of Justice stepping in to lend assistance.
“We are working with state and local departments to really try to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous individuals,” said U.S. Attorney Matt Krueger.
Krueger says his office has made mitigating gun-related offenses a priority, taking some 115-gun related cases to court this year.
“If we can keep firearms out of the hands of dangerous individuals then we can prevent shootings,” said Krueger.
He’s working with Green Bay’s chief – sharing resources to attack the problem.
“The first task of the government is to keep people safe and the U.S. Justice Department believes that sincerely,” Krueger said.
“We’re looking to see if we can bring some of their agents to help us out with some of these cases and again bring federal charges if someone uses a gun inappropriately in Green Bay,” Smith said.
Smith says his department knows the players behind these shootings and a task force he assembled is working to build a case to bring those responsible into custody, to end the gun violence on city streets.
“We’re doing everything we can as a police department to stop this,” the chief said.
Chief Smith says this small group of individuals are responsible for 60-70 percent of the city’s confirmed shootings.