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For second straight year, Milwaukee Press Club nominates The Badger Project for journalism award

Managing editor Peter Cameron won gold last year for another investigative story on law enforcement.

By Christina Lieffring, THE BADGER PROJECT

The Milwaukee Press Club has nominated The Badger Project’s managing editor Peter Cameron for a 2022 Excellence in Journalism award in the category online news for best investigative story or series. The nomination comes for an August article on how the total number of police in the state has fallen to an all-time low and how departments are employing civilians to take some of the burden off law enforcement.

The Badger Project is a nonpartisan journalism nonprofit that covers the powerful in Wisconsin, including politics, wealthy donors and law enforcement. Its stories run in newspapers and news organizations across the state.

This is The Badger Project’s second award nomination from the Milwaukee Press Club. Last year, Cameron received gold in the category of best public service story or series for a collaboration between The Badger Project and Wisconsin Watch. The first-prize story found that nearly 200 officers who had been fired or forced out from previous law enforcement jobs had been rehired in law enforcement job in Wisconsin.

Founded in 1885, the Milwaukee Press Club is the oldest continuously operating press club in North America. Nominees will learn if they won gold, silver or bronze on May 12 at the Gridiron Awards at The Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee.

A list of all the nominees can be found here.

Since the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) began tracking the number of law enforcement officers in Wisconsin in 2008, that number has slowly declined, despite the state’s growing population. A June 2020 Wisconsin Policy Forum report found municipal governments are devoting a higher proportion of their budgets to police than the national average, while Wisconsin was dead last of all 50 states in the percentage of state funding for law enforcement.

In response, some departments in Wisconsin have implemented or are in the process of implementing programs to dispatch crisis counselors, sometimes accompanied by EMTs or plain-clothes officers, to mental health calls.

The city of Madison’s Community Alternative Response Emergency Services (CARES) program, was implemented in 2021 and has since expanded. The Wausau Police Department and Marathon County Sheriff’s Department have partnered with local healthcare organizations to create a similar program.

The city of Milwaukee plans to create a crisis response program also, but is short on funding. The Milwaukee Police Department already employs about ten civilian community service officers to respond to non-emergency and low-priority calls.

The Badger Project is a nonpartisan, citizen-supported journalism nonprofit in Wisconsin.

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