M.P.D. Blue — A Portrait of Police Work

As a lieutenant in the Milwaukee Police Department’s homicide unit, Dave Kane had a reputation as a straight shooter who—in his passion for the job—didn’t mince words. As such, I wasn’t the least bit surprised to find Dave’s new book, M.P.D. Blue, a no-nonsense saga of his 30 years of police service.

For those of you interested in police work, M.P.D. Blue is a must-read. Last week, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Jim Stingl profiled the book:


Stingl focused on Kane’s involvement as a supervisor during the Jeffrey Dahmer investigation and his infiltration—albeit brief—of the Ku Klux Klan.  Without a doubt, these two stories are intersting to the general public.  I, on other hand, having walked a mile in his shoes as lieutenant of detectives, enjoyed the darts Dave occasionally threw that hit their mark. 

One chapter of the book, entitled The Cigarette Package, describes the attention to detail of Homicide Detective Greg Schuler.  After a citizen discovered a prostitute strangled to death in an alley near N. 27th Street and W. Fond du lac Avenue, Kane and Schuler responded to the scene to investigate. 

This area is a notoriously seedy section of Milwaukee peppered with litter and garbage.  The victim, a black female, was partially disrobed and had a wooden stick shoved in her vagina.  In the midst of the clutter, Schuler had to decipher which pieces of litter had the potential for evidentiary value. One of the items Schuler collected from amongst the debris was a crusty cigarette package. 

A few days later, Schuler called Kane to explain that an evidence technician developed a latent fingerprint from the cigarette pack that belonged to a young male living in the area. 

“You mean to tell me,” Kane quotes himself telling Schuler, “that you picked up a cigarette pack at the [garbage filled] scene?”  Schuler explained that, having examined the filthy alley, he believed the suspect might have dropped the package. A short time thereafter, Schuler had a suspect in custody who confessed to the crime. 

Within the scope of two days, Schuler had cleared two homicides with confessions. Kane was so appreciative of the detective’s work that he nominated Schuler for the Milwaukee Police Department’s Superior Achievement Award.  Months later, however, the award went to “a uniformed sergeant for devising a plan that saved the department two reams of copy paper.”  Kane explains, “But that was the Milwaukee Police Department.  The CIB [the detective bureau] was viewed as the bastard child sometimes.”

In M.P.D. Blue, Kane writes of an incident where he came just inches from losing his life.  On November 13, 1970, Kane and his partner, Dick Shannon, conducted a traffic stop for a defective taillight. 

As Kane handed the driver, Lee Seward, a releasable citation for an equipment violation, he observed what he believed to be a flash bulb popping and initially thought a firecracker had exploded; however, within a few seconds, it became clear that someone had fired a shot. The two beat cops ran back to their squad, backed-up a short distance, and radioed a call of “shots fired.” 

As a cop involved in a few similar situations, hearing dozens of sirens responding is indeed a Godsend.

What occurred next, though, was difficult for the two officers to decipher.  The passenger of the vehicle, a Ford convertible, exited and lay prone of the ground.  They later discovered that a sniper with a .30-06 rifle took a shot at Kane, who was at the driver’s side door. 

Officers whisked Kane to the hospital to treat a graze wound to his arm.

“When I got to the hospital,” Kane writes, “I noticed some peculiar substance sprayed all over the front of my coat. I would later learn that the substance was the exploded brain matter of Lee Seward. The bullet that had struck my arm had continued onward, striking Mr. Seward in the head as he sat in his car.” 

Of course, the passenger, believing the police had summarily executed the courteous driver for no apparent reason, exited to surrender. 

The next day, two officers stopped Willie Triplett and Willie Campbell.  A search of their vehicle turned-up the .30-06 used to kill Seward.  The two teenaged-boys told investigators that they wanted to “kill a pig.”  A month earlier, the pair had shot and killed a security guard they believed was a police officer.  Unknown to Kane’s partner, a week prior to the death of Seward, the pair shot at Shannon’s unoccupied squad.  Investigators later discovered the round lodged under the vehicle’s gas pedal.

M.P.D. Blue, a quick read well-worth its cost, is a collection of almost two dozen other interesting warstories.  Here is a link to view more details about the book:



Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee’s Northside Strangler.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010

2 Responses

  1. BayViewGent

    $16 for a paperback & $25 for a hardcover! Quite expensive for a 97-page book!!!! And the prices DO NOT include shipping and handling!!!

    July 2, 2010 at 8:53 pm

  2. Steve Spingola

    BV-Gent, I have no control over the cost of the book. I do wish Dave would have contacted my publisher, Badger Wordsmith, located in Wales, Wisconsin. He could have self-published for substantially less and assisted the local metro Milwaukee area economy in the process. Nonetheless, it’s a good read. You can also download the e-book version for $9.99.

    July 2, 2010 at 10:54 pm

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