Archive for September, 2013

Is the Madison Police Chief’s Departure a Gentle Push Out the Door?

Within the next few days, the police chief of Wisconsin’s second largest law enforcement agency, the City of Madison Police Department, is set to retire.  Noble Wray, a 52-year-old empty nester, is exiting his post to spend more time with his family.

While Wray might be getting the glad-hand treatment from the liberal press, there are some who believe that he was gently pushed out the door by Madison’s far-left, on-again, off-again mayor, Paul Soglin, over the shooting death of a local musician at the hands of Madison Police Officer Stephen Heimsness.  On November 9, 2012, a highly intoxicated Paul Heenan attempted to enter the home of a couple, who contacted the police.  When Heimsness arrived, Heenan, it is alleged, reached for the officer’s firearm and, as one would expect, bad things happened.

The shooting death of Heenan was investigated thoroughly. The case was reviewed by the Dane County DA’s office and the Professional Performance Division of the Madison Police Department.  Both agencies later cleared Officer Heimsness.  However, with Madison being Madison, residents voiced outraged that an officer would dare shoot a man who simply reached for his firearm, even though common sense dictates that the purpose of disarming an officer is to retrieve and possibly turn the firearm against the officer.  Each year, about 15 percent of the police officers in the U.S. shot-and-killed in the line of duty die as a result of their firearms being turned against them.

Ironically, while it is the justifiably-ruled shooting death of Heenan that led, at least in a de facto sense, to Wray’s gentle exit, the homicides of Madison co-eds Brittany Zimmermann and Kelly Nolan remain unsolved.  The Madison media, for the most part, has given Wray a free pass on these two troubling slayings, even though the press is keenly aware that two killers remain at-large to offend again.  I profiled some of the problems with the Zimmermann investigation in my latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II.

From my conversations with those in the know, Wray’s record as chief is a mixed bag.  He riled the normally docile Madison Professional Police Officers Association — the union representing rank-and-file Madison officers, sergeants, and detectives — by ordering an internal investigation of Heimsness’ tenure as an officer after the shooting of Heenan, where it was learned that Heimsness sent some troubling messages over his squad car’s mobile data computer (MDC).  Granted, the messages were, to say the least, unprofessional, but they did not merit the officer’s termination, as Wray requested.  Looking at this investigation from the lens of my 30-plus years of policing experience, I believe Wray was trying to placate the liberal establishment in Madison by forcing Heimsness out the door for disingenuous reasons.

Moreover, while Wray asked the residents of Madison to trust him, he used his position as chief of police to advocate for the lenient treatment of minority felony offenders, citing a racial bias in the criminal justice system.  My position on this matter is simple: if an individual — regardless of his or her race — does not wish to spend time in prison, do not commit serious crimes and then whine like a stuck pig while incarcerated.

Others privately complain that Wray’s command staff is top heavy, with two captains having similar titles and basically the same job responsibilities as the Madison Police Department’s two assistant police chiefs.  Eliminating these positions would free-up about $300,000, enough to hire six additional police officers.  With the Madison media in the tank for Wray, reporters and newspaper editors have never dared ask, for a fear of reduced access, why a police department that serves a city of 215,000 people needs two assistant chiefs of the police.

As far as the selection process for the next City of Madison police chief, the Spingola Files has checked with sources and believes that the Madison Fire and Police Commission will expand the search to include external candidates. The Madison Police Department’s soon-to-be interim police chief, Randy Gaber, is considered too much of a good old boy insider to ascend to the top job, even though, barring some type of political controversy, his hands are steady enough to guide the department through the transition.  The most qualified internal candidate, if he chooses to apply, is Captain Vic Wahl.  If outside candidates can opt-in, Commander Michele Donegan, of the Nashville Police Department, and Assistant Police Chief Jessica Robledo, of the Austin PD, might apply.

If these conventional choices do not pan out, under Soglin’s influence, the Madison Fire and Police Commission might shake things up by appointing a complete, low level outsider, such as Madison’s flower child former police chief, David Couper, whose only qualifications were being a liberal and having served as a detective in small town Minnesota.


On Tuesday evening, I had the privilege to present the “Psychology of Homicide” program at the Racine Public Library.  Afterwards, CBS 58 profiled the event and other crime related issues on its 10 PM newscast.   To view the segment please visit the link below:


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

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Has a Soon-to-be Released Milwaukee Crime Book Struck a Nerve at the MPD?

Granted, I will admit, I am reading between the lines and do not possess any inside information on what is bouncing around inside the mind of Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn; however, his remarks at a recent luncheon held by the Milwaukee Rotary Club and Milwaukee Press Club lead me to believe that he is taking a backhanded slap at retired Milwaukee PD Captain Glenn Frankovis.

Before the Christmas book buying rush, Frankovis is determined to release a book he has authored about urban crime fighting strategies.  When it comes to rolling-up one’s sleeves and getting the job done on the crime front, the former police captain—for all practical purposes forced out by Milwaukee’s former police chief—pulls no punches and minces few words.

Initially a supporter of Chief Flynn, Frankovis has taken issue with some of the police chief’s politically correct approaches, such as Flynn’s advocacy for gun control, the police chief’s de facto gutting of the MPD’s detective bureau, and Flynn’s so-called data-driven policing operation.   During the course of the past three years, several current and former MPD personnel believe Flynn—for whatever reason—has evolved into a mouthpiece for Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

In his address to the Milwaukee Rotary Club, Chief Flynn, according to Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter, Ashley Luthern, said “(broken windows policing) never meant arrest everybody for every little thing you see them do. The departments that do that generate huge amounts of arrests, and their payoff is community resentment because you’re locking up folks for little stuff.”

If Chief Flynn, indeed, was taking a poke at Frankovis’ soon-to-be released book, the chief misrepresented the retired captain’s strategy.

Having spent nearly 30-years with the Milwaukee PD, I have, of course, spoken with a number of officers who have worked directly for Glenn Frankovis, especially members of his Area Specific Policing (ASP) teams at Districts Three and Five.  These were savvy coppers who didn’t write tickets to or arrest grandma Emma for violating city ordinances, and who didn’t need three day-old data to let them know where the bad guys had set-up shop.  Frankovis’s ASP officers focused their efforts on the narco-gang element and surgically disrupted these—for a lack of a better term—urban terrorist organizations.

The Spingola Files spotlighted some of Frankovis’ successes in an August 2013 post:

Violence in Milwaukee this summer had caused the city’s per capita homicide rate to surpass Chicago’s, which might mean that SF’s post regarding the retired captain’s forthcoming book might have touched a nerve on the 7th Floor of Milwaukee’s Police Administration Building.

Personally, I say let the battle of ideas begin.  With bodies pilling-up in the county morgue, Milwaukee, at a minimum, needs a steady diet of crime fighting discourse.


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

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

The President’s Ignoble Lie


Only a politician who knows that the mainstream media is in the tank for him would appear on national television and—with a straight face—tell such a whopper.

In early August, President Obama appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and told the host, “We [the United States government] don’t have a domestic spying program,” even though media reports abound that contradict this statement.

“Everybody knows I love this president, but this is ridiculous,” said Van Jones, a far-left former Obama administration advisor, while appearing on CNN. “First of all, we do have a domestic spying program, and what we need to be able to do is figure out how to balance these things, not pretend like there’s no balancing to be done.”

Splitting hairs like virtually every politician does, President Obama’s answer is, of course, predicated on what is considered “a domestic spying program.”  The reality is that the federal government, as well as state and local law enforcement (funded, in part, by the federal government), is up to their ears in  spying on Americans.

The most visible sign of domestic spying initiatives are the millions of cameras posted along interstate highways, mounted on poles at key intersections, or those little white boxes containing cameras found, in some instances, every mile on stretches of southeastern Wisconsin freeways.  This data is recorded and archived by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s State Traffic Operations Center in Milwaukee—an Orwellian facility funded, in part, with federal grant money.

At the national level, the National Security Administration (NSA) operates programs, described in detail by fugitive Edward Snowden, which can watch Americans type instant messages and e-mails in real time.  The NSA is set to open its Utah Data Center this month.  This 1,000,000 square foot facility will house trillions of Americans’ telephone conversations and e-mails. Once a user of telephone and/or an electronic device utters or types one of over 1,000 keywords, every conversation or message to-and-from that device is recorded and stored by the NSA.  Under the auspices of the USA Patriot Act, this type of wiretapping is no longer concerned eavesdropping, unless the government chooses to open an individual’s electronic dossier and listen to the recordings.

“A requirement of the 2008 law is that the NSA “may not intentionally target any person known at the time of acquisition to be located in the United States.” A possible interpretation of that language, some legal experts said, is that the agency may vacuum up everything it can domestically — on the theory that indiscriminate data acquisition was not intended to “target” a specific American citizen,” wrote CNet’s Declan McCullagh.

And that is precisely what the NSA does and what the Utah Data Center was built to store.

If the NSA and Wisconsin’s DOT’s spy center still doesn’t have one convinced that President Obama was either lying to Jay Leno or is simply inept, consider the 77 intelligence fusion centers spread across the United States.  Wisconsin has two such centers: one operated by the Milwaukee Police Department and the other housed in a benign office park on Madison’s north side.  The equipment used by these centers was purchased with Department of Homeland Security grant money.  Moreover, federal funds underwrite about 20 percent of the Milwaukee fusion center’s budget.

These high-tech fusion centers can access one’s personal information from private sector data mining companies, such as ChoicePoint, in order to ascertain an individual’s financial transactions, book purchases, vehicles and properties owned, credit information, as well as names and addresses of relatives and neighbors.  Fusion centers also use software to track cellular telephones absent judicial oversight.  This technology enables an agent of the government to follow a cell phone from room-to-room within a particular building or structure.

If recording electronic communications, obtaining personal data from private sector companies, and following cellular telephone users in real time, still doesn’t have one convinced the government is spying on virtually all of us on a daily basis, automated license plate readers—considered by some the crown jewel of state and local government surveillance—should.

In Wisconsin, over 37 law enforcement agencies use automated license plate readers (ALPR), which are generally mounted on patrol vehicles, although some are placed at fixed locations.  These devices scan hundreds of license plates of passing vehicles each minute to check on the driver’s license status, possible warrants, or other fugitive data.  These devices also record the date, time, and location that the vehicle was scanned.  This information is then stored in various databases.  Most of these automated license plate readers are purchased, in part, with federal grant money.

Fox News 6 in Milwaukee ran an excellent segment on ALPRs last November (see the below link):

But what about surveillance from the air?  By 2017, some experts believe law enforcement agencies will have access to over 33,000 Unmanned Ariel Vehicle (UAVs), also known as drones.  The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs Enforcement Division currently uses Predator drones with very intrusive surveillance equipment, including infrared that can see through the walls of homes.

A little over a week ago, I communicated with a former secret squirrel (law enforcement terminology for an agent or an officer who worked in the area of intelligence gathering), who, having observed my name on the dedication page of Mitchell Nevin’s new novel, “Psychic Reprieve,” seemed perturbed by the book’s detailed descriptions of the drone surveillance of a terror suspect and a sneak-and-peek search of the target’s home near San Diego.  He was not complaining about the novel’s factual description of the events, but that the author provided too vivid of a portrait of government operations.

So, President Obama, don’t lie to the American people. The government is spying on Americans 24 x 7 and federal money is paying for most of the gadgets as well as some of the manpower. Granted, the President knew Jay Leno wouldn’t call him out on domestic spying, which is precisely why he uttered his ignoble lie on The Tonight Show and not in front of knowledgeable journalists.


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

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013