Wisconsin attorney general talks about public safety and mental health among big initiatives for 2022

GREEN BAY, WB (WBAY) – As 2021 draws to a close, the state’s biggest cop is already looking into the new year, hoping to put more emphasis on public safety as the state grapples with an increase in violence and more people grapple with serious mental health problems.

Action 2 News spoke with Attorney General Josh Kaul to discuss these initiatives and his plans for the future.

He says his top priority is public safety.

“Now is a great time to invest in things like community policing, officer recruitment and retention, crisis response teams, victim services – the kinds of things that can make our safer communities, ”says Kaul.

In recent months, the increase in gun violence has caught the attention of many in northeastern Wisconsin.

Green Bay has hit a record number of shots fired this month.

We asked Kaul what he plans to do to hold people accountable and stop the violence.

“What I think we need to do is react aggressively and invest in our communities,” he says. “Reinvesting so that our communities have the resources to do things like recruit and retain officers so that we can invest in community policing, so that we can support violence prevention efforts as well as victim and survivor services. other public safety measures. “

He referred to his $ 115 million Safer Wisconsin initiative that we first told you about in November.

Kaul also draws attention to what he calls the state’s “broken mental health system”, an issue we’ve been reporting on for years.

He says his rollout of several recommendations earlier this year to get people to treatment faster and reduce the time they spend in custody waiting for help is a step in the right direction, but he wants to see more, including crisis response teams.

“So that we can have both law enforcement officers, but also others involved in responding to mental health calls. This allows for follow-up by people who are mental health professionals and can prevent so many law enforcement resources from being diverted from public safety protection to mental health response, ”says Kaul.

The attorney general also hopes to see progress in this year’s investigation into abuse by clergy and religious leaders.

Almost 200 people have filed reports so far.

Kaul says it could lead to criminal charges, but only if the investigation leads them to it.

“The more information we collect, it helps us both to describe more fully what happened in Wisconsin and to provide better and more informed recommendations on how improvements can be made,” says -he.

Kaul also addressed opioids and held drug companies accountable for their role in the opioid epidemic. During his first year in office, he participated in multi-state investigations into opioid distributors and participated in a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma.

“These efforts are now starting to bear fruit,” says Kaul. “Wisconsin is currently in a position to raise about half a billion dollars to help fight the opioid epidemic, and those resources are going to go to communities across the state to support things like treatment and prevention.” , and law enforcement efforts, and ultimately help us respond more effectively to the epidemic. “

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