Milwaukee’s Current Crime Fighting Strategy is a Part of the Problem

Over the course of the past month, I have had an opportunity to review retired Milwaukee Police Department’s Captain Glenn Frankovis’ work-in-progress manuscript regarding his vision of a successful urban crime fighting strategy.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Glenn, he is a pull no punches, no non-sense, when it comes to crime, type of guy.  His work ethic is very representative of Milwaukee, where hardworking people get up each day, roll-up their sleeves, and are willing to get their hands dirty.

When Frankovis was a street sergeant at District Two, he lobbied for a team of six officers to get a grip on an out-of-control gang of thugs that held a neighborhood hostage near S. 15th and W. Orchard Ave.  Ninety-days later, violent crime dropped over 60 percent.

As the commander of Districts Five and Three, he employed area saturation patrols to disrupt criminal activity in high-crime neighborhoods, such as Metcalfe Park. Under his leadership at District Five, overall major crimes decreased by 8.1% in 2002 and another 6.5% in 2003.  In 2002, District Five shootings declined by 42.8% and homicides by 48.6%.  In 2003, while in command of District Three, Frankovis oversaw a 15.5% reduction in violent crime, including a 21.7% reduction in robberies.

In early 2004, after gang members had threatened an officer under his command, Frankovis issued a memo to officers at District Three labeling these gangbangers “thugs.”  Calling a thug a thug was apparently too politically incorrect for the MPD’s police chief, Nan Hegerty, who buried the hard-charging captain in a job akin to counting paper clips.

“This is nothing I haven’t said before,” Frankovis told the Marquette Tribune, explaining that the memo was meant “…to send a clear and convincing signal to the thugs that the only thing they accomplished was to give (officers in District 3) cause to make their lives even more miserable than before.”

After being forced, in a de facto sense, into retirement, Frankovis later applied to become Milwaukee’s Chief-of-Police, but, in my opinion, was dismissed from contention because of his matter-of-fact willingness to call things the way he sees them.  In other words, he was too politically incorrect to surgically remove the cancer still eating away at Milwaukee—criminal gangs and organized crime related drug activity.

No doubt, Frankovis’ strategy is much different than Chicago’s current police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, whose response to Chicago’s out-of-control gang problem is more gun control.  Recently, the Chicago PD, at the behest of Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, held a listening session about that city’s escalating violence; whereby, a number of representatives of street gangs were invited to contribute to the dialog.

Make no mistake about it; Glenn Frankovis would never, ever invite the “thugs” to the table.  To do so would be an insult to the law abiding and others who struggle, each day, to do the right thing while battling poverty and ignorance.

And though the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission dismissed Frankovis from becoming police chief in short order, their selection, Ed Flynn, has used a “data driven” policing strategy with mixed results.  While overall crime has declined, as it has nationally since Flynn’s tenure, violence in Milwaukee is once again on the rise.  Witness the rash of shootings in the last month. Moreover, the problem with “data driven” policing is once the data is collected the victims are already shot and/or lying on a slab in the morgue. Too often, this type of strategy is a day late and a dollar short, especially if one is a victim.

Over the course of the past few years, Glenn and I have kicked around our ideas on how to improve crime fighting efforts in Milwaukee.  We both agree that, like Chief Flynn, besides the homicide and sensitive crime units, the detective bureau should be decentralized. Unlike Chief Flynn, however, Glenn and I would not treat the detective bureau like the MPD’s bastard child.  Detectives play a vital role in solving serious crimes, which means, when they’re successful, heinous offenders typically wind-up in prison for long periods of time and, therefore, are unable to prey on society. Why Chief Flynn continues to display a level of contempt for the MPD’s detective bureau remains a mystery.  Not long before Flynn arrived, investigators from around the nation, as well as other countries, visited to Milwaukee to learn from its police department’s detectives.

While the mainstream media in Milwaukee has taken the bait and focused primarily on decreases in crime, the press has reported little—hint, hint—about the clearance rates of burglaries, robberies, shootings, and homicides. A hunch says that a handful of prosecutors in the Milwaukee County DA’s office believe that cases are going unprosecuted due to a lack of investigative follow-up and/or adequate investigation.

In the interim, put me down as a person anxiously awaiting Frankovis’ new crime fighting manual.  I’ll make sure to send a copy to Rahm Emanuel et al in Chicago.


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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© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

3 Responses

  1. Glenn Frankovis

    An interesting part of this story: One of the guys who was assigned to me e-mailed me and told me that very shortly after the transfer, Mrs. Hegerty came to #3 to talk to the guys about why she did what she did. This copper and another cornered her after that and discussed the transfer further with her. She told them that if I had just verbally said this and not put it in memo form that it wouldn’t have been a big deal. In other words, she either lied to the public or she lied to these two cops. These two guys knew better.

    This really was all about political payback and a total lack of integrity on her part. I had submitted reports using the word thug prior to this memo and never heard so much as the word “boo”. As for Larry Moore’s reaction to this, he knew better and so did those aldermen. It was purely racial politics on their part. In fact, at a meeting held at Master Lock shortly after my transfer to District #3 from D-5, a meeting that was well attended and included asst U.S. Atty James Santelle (currently THE U.S. Atty for the eastern District of Wisconsin), Larry Moore made it a point to tell those in attendance that his first reaction when Chief Arthur Jones told him I was coming was to express concern that a “white Captain was replacing a black Captain”. He said I had convinced him that my presence would be for the better. In fact, as president of the Metcalfe Park Neighborhood Association, he later (sometime in the fall of 2003) presented me with an award of appreciation from the Metcalfe Park Neighborhood Association at an award ceremony held at the 34th and North YMCA. We also had to work with a couple of insurgents at District #3, one of whom released the memo to a news babe friend of hers who ran with it without doing any investigation because it fit her racial agenda. The other was another slug copper who was spreading lies to Mrs. Hegerty about our ASP operation and me. Lots more on all this, but it should be enough to give readers an understanding of what I had to deal with in my last years on the job.

    August 12, 2013 at 6:43 pm

  2. Dave Kane

    Although I always thought highly of Glenn, I think he suffers from what I suffered from. Unfinished careers. I think he could have gone on to make a difference in this City if he hadn’t been derailed by politics.

    August 12, 2013 at 7:55 pm

  3. Pingback: » Has a Soon-to-be Released Milwaukee Crime Book Struck a Nerve at the MPD?

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