Don’t Get Flynn-Flammed by the Chief-of-Police

While one can argue that advocating on behalf of a law enforcement agency’s budget is well within the purview of the duties of the chief-of-police, in an interview with a reporter from the local newspaper, the thinly veiled political attack on the state legislature by Milwaukee’s chief-of-police—done under the guise of good government—illustrates that Chief Ed Flynn is all too willing to pony-up to the bar of the public trough in search of yet another free drink.

As the impetus for his tirade, Flynn cites the expiration of a $445,000 grant for SharpShooter—a computer program that can pinpoint an area where gunshots emanate, which has been funded by the state legislature.  Often times these awards, such as the COPS grants funded by the Clinton administration in the 1990s, cover the first three-to-five years of a program, at which time the agency receiving the grant money is expected to assume the cost.

The $445,000 needed to fund SharpShooter could easily be achieved by Flynn streamlining his already top heavy command staff.  The Milwaukee Police Department has three assistant chiefs-of-police.  Why a city the size of Milwaukee has more than one defies logic.  Two of these positions could easily be eliminated by placing just one assistant police chief in charge of the north, central, and south commands, since all three are currently overseen by an inspector of police. By eliminating the two assistant police chiefs’ positions, the Milwaukee Police Department could save nearly $300,000 in wages and benefits.

Flynn also ripped the legislature’s decision to allow one of the state’s regional crime labs, currently located in cramped quarters near Lapham Blvd., to search for a new location, possibly outside Milwaukee.  Having worked closely with technicians from the crime lab in the past, the location of this building really has little to do with efficiencies within the Milwaukee Police Department.  For the sake of argument, if the Wisconsin Regional Crime Lab is moved from its current location to the Milwaukee County Grounds in Wauwatosa—near an area where the University of Wisconsin—Milwaukee is constructing research facilities—how would this hamper the crime fighting efforts of Milwaukee police? Clearly, making the location of the crime lab an issue came directly from a Barrett administration talking points memo.

Yet even a low information voter could see through Flynn’s water carrying exercise as the chief feigns outrage over the elimination of the residency requirement for City of Milwaukee employees.  Of course, the reporter fails to ask the police chief how this change would affect the overall operation of his department. Why? Because this rule change, in the long run, might actually benefit the Milwaukee Police Department, as solid, young potential recruits, unwilling to raise their families in the confines of the city, might now be encouraged to apply.

The real hypocrisy, in my opinion, comes not from the state legislature, but from the chief-of-police himself. If Flynn believes so strongly in Milwaukee, why hasn’t he put his money where his mouth is and purchased a home in the city?  Instead, the chief has chosen to rent a condo in the trendy Third Ward. Moreover, Flynn’s family, specifically his wife, does not reside in Milwaukee.  Surely, once the chief’s contract expires or he chooses to retire, his lease on his Third Ward condo will lapse and, once his payroll checks from the City of Milwaukee stop coming, he will move out of state, probably back to the east coast or Florida, with his pension checks in tow.  As such, he will not feel the pain of any of the repercussions of the public policy positions advocated by his de facto boss, Mayor Barrett, like the $80 million 2.5 mile trolley.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

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3 Responses

  1. Pingback: The Presteblog | When police chiefs are politicians

  2. Glenn D. Frankovis

    He talks about economic/business development, yet the fact of the matter is nobody in their right mind is going to move into an area where their very life is in danger everytime they travel to and from work. You want businesses to move into the City and create jobs? Take an aggressive approach to crime fighting and criticize the people who should be helping you – like the D.A.’s Office and Courts who seem more interested in deferred prosecutions and probation than in charging crimes and jailing bad guys responsible for a deteriorating inner city. The Department has been understaffed for as long as I can remember. In 1989 we were down 300 cops. He needs to quit pointing fingers and complaining about lack of this and that and just do the job. If that means redeploying his resources back into the Police Districts, where they belong, than do it! Instead of getting into pissing contests with Scott Walker and Dave Clarke, maybe he ought to think about the good people living in these high crime areas that have given up calling for help because of his slow/no Dispatch policy. He might also want to start looking at his own Mayor and Common Council who spend money on things other than locking up bad guys. They need to start acting like they want a safer city rather than pointing fingers and asking the State for more help. An outside candidate for Police Chief in Milwaukee once told me that Flynn was “a good talker”. He’s all of that, but talk is cheap. A lot of people, including myself, were fooled by this guy when he first came to town.

    As for renting a condo to satisfy the residency requirements, precedent was set by his predecessor who actually had a house outside the county but maintained an investment condo on the northwest edge of the City. Apparently residency all depends on which Party you contribute heavily to. Kind of like enforcing laws against lefty protestors illegally blocking City streets.

    June 1, 2013 at 2:17 am

  3. Glenn D. Frankovis

    I see 4 more people got shot last night. Thank God for the Shotspotter so the location of the shots could be pinpointed and our guys could “react” – again.

    June 1, 2013 at 2:29 pm

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