Cop Talk

When Debacles Occur Watch the Politics

As documented by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, a sting operation run by the Milwaukee branch of the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) solidified the concept of Murphy’s Law into the arena of criminal investigations.

Snafus are nothing new to law enforcement.  The Jeffrey Dahmer case is prime example. During one contact, the serial killer managed to slip through the fingers of officers. Then, once Dahmer was in custody, guards at the jail asked the killer to autograph a newspaper bearing his likeness.  Of course, grandstanding politicians—primarily John Norquist, Milwaukee’s mayor at the time—used these embarrassing mistakes as a catalyst to ‘transform’ the Milwaukee Police Department, which caused a Grand Canyon-sized rift between Police Chief Phil Arreola and the MPD’s rank-and-file. Ironically, karma has a way of keeping score, as a real scandal—one that resulted in the moniker “Johnny Appleseed” being uttered by a snickering few—paved the way for the then mayor’s exit.

In the ATF case, a series of discomfiting events gave the Riverwest Operation a black eye.

“Of all the mistakes by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives in its flawed gun-buying sting in Milwaukee last year,” Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporters John Diedrich and Raquel Rutledge wrote, “the loss of the government-owned Colt M4 stands as the gravest threat to public safety.”

The M4, a high-powered rifle with the ability to fire multiple rounds with one pull of the trigger, was stolen from an agent’s SUV while the vehicle was parked at a local coffee shop.  After an intense search that yielded solid suspects, the rifle remains in the wind.

And, while the ATF’s sting ran amuck, the operation did shed some light on property crime in the Riverwest area, as burglars snared $40,000 worth of merchandise the store front rented by the agency to conduct the sting.

Now, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the ATF used a 28-year-old man with a diminished mental capacity to distribute fliers and solicit the public to visit the store. Later, the man was indicted on firearms related charges related to the operation.

The negative press emanating from this failed sting comes on the heels of the little covered U.S. Supreme Court decision in Millbrook v. the United States. In a rare unanimous decision, the court held that the U.S. government can be held liable for abuses intentionally carried out by law enforcement officers as a result of their employment. However, the individual agents have little to fear financially. Under the Federal Torts Courts Claim Act (FTCA), it is the taxpayers that are left holding the bag.

“FTCA judgments are paid by an unlimited fund provided by Congress,” said attorney Jeff Bucholtz, an attorney who argued against Millbrook, “so it doesn’t hurt prison guards or their supervisors when judgments are paid out under the statute.”

After the Operation Fast and Furious debacle—an ATF operation that oversaw the transfer of firearms to Mexcian narco-gang members; whereby,  one of the weapons was later used to murder a U.S. Border Patrol agent—you can bet the missing M4 stolen from the Milwaukee agent’s SUV is causing many  sleepless nights for ATF bureaucrats.


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

Sheriff Clarke’s “Hollywood Voice” a Match for Talk-Radio


Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke, Jr.

One of the most polarizing figures in southeastern Wisconsin is Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke. In a sense, Clarke is kind of a duck out of water—a law-and-order conservative who was elected to office as a Democrat in a liberal county, even though he often aligns himself with Republican office holders.

One would think, though, that the sheriff’s Dirty Harry persona would resonate well with members of his department’s rank-and-file and other county sheriffs, especially his unrelenting, mano-a-mano efforts to thwart the gun-grabbers.  Instead, Clarke’s take-the-bull-by-the horns management style has alienated those who should be his biggest supporters, namely the deputies whose jobs he has fought obstinately to spare from the chopping block.

Having worked with David Clarke in the Milwaukee Police Department’s homicide unit, I am well aware of his passion for victims’ rights and his respect for the values enumerated in the Bill of Rights.  Philosophically, when it comes to the role of law enforcement and public safety, there’s probably not a dime’s worth of difference between Sheriff Clarke and I.  That being said our styles of management are the antithesis of each other’s.

Whereas, Clarke—an official elected by the public—embodies a top-down approach to organizational leadership, I generally prefer to delegate the administration of most tasks to qualified managers and/or subordinates.  After all, the sheriff, the chief-of-police, captains, and, to a lesser extent, shift commanders, are department heads or managers who just so happen to carry guns. Their primary focus should consist of fostering relationships with those controlling their department’s budgets, setting the agency’s agenda, getting buy-in from those under their command, maintaining discipline within the ranks, and communicating effectively with the public.

No doubt, on occasion, high-ranking law enforcement administrators will have their differences with judges, the district attorney’s office, members of the media, and the mayor and/or the county executive.  Typically, though, smoothing out these differences behind the scenes enables an elected department head or a de facto political appointee, such a police chief, to further advance their agency’s agenda and improve public safety.

Whether it is out of frustration or an unwillingness to capitulate core values, Sheriff Clarke has aired a lot of dirty laundry in public—calling out Chief Judge Jeffrey Kremers, claiming that Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele suffers from “penis envy,” and apologizing in a letter to U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham for Chief Flynn’s antiquated and nonsensical testimony in support of an semi-automatic rifle ban.

Nonetheless, when given an opportunity, Clarke is a very effective communicator.  Even Piers Morgan made note of the sheriff’s “Hollywood voice.”

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to listen to Sheriff Clarke as he filled-in for Milwaukee talk-radio host Mark Belling during the show’s Five- O’clock hour on WISN radio.  If and when Clarke decides to retire his gun-and-badge, he most definitely has a future as a talk-radio host (to catch a short portion of the sheriff’s performance, click the link to the following Podcast):

No doubt, Clarke came armed with a lot more than the emotional rhetoric Chief Flynn regurgitated during an appearance before a U.S. Senate sub-committee.  In Milwaukee County, the sheriff noted, over a 12-year period only 44 percent of the cases brought to the DA’s office involving the straw purchases of guns for felons where charged, which resulted in offenders serving  an average of just seven months for a crime that carries a maximum penalty of ten-years in prison.

Personally, as far as WISN radio hosts are concerned, I would prefer to hear more of Sheriff Clarke and less from two of the other infrequently used fill-ins, whose attached-at-the-hip relationship to the special interest, Patriot Act-wing of Republican Party is rather dull and predictable.  If Clarke can broaden his repertoire to include other issues, his stock as a talk-radio host will rise exponentially.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

A Tale of One City

Cities become dysfunctional for a reason.  In some places, such as Chicago, the governing class has historically relied on political patronage; whereby, members of a specific ethnic or racial background are brought into the Democrat Party infrastructure with the belief that they can control the violence of competing criminal enterprises within their districts.

In Chicago, the Daley machine is dead. Just over a decade ago, President Bush, at the advice of a former U.S. Senator from Illinois, appointed Patrick Fitzgerald—an outsider from New York—as the U.S. Attorney for Northern Illinois.  Under Fitzgerald’s watch, federal officials indicated several high profile targets, including former Illinois Governors George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, Chicago City Clerk James Laski, as well as a number of top aides to former Mayor Richard M. Daley.

Fitzgerald and federal law enforcement also targeted the hierarchy of Chicago’s street gangs, like the the New Breed—an off-shoot of the Black Disciples—and the Latin Kings, who employed police officers to shake down rivals.

On the other hand, the Daley machine picked its own poison when it appointed Jody Weis as Chicago’s Police Superintendent in 2008. A former FBI agent, Weis chose to focus his wrath on his own officers while treating the criminal element with kid gloves.

Consequently, with top gang members occupying federal prison cells and Weis’ unwillingness to assert control, a power vacuum ensued, resulting in a number of smaller gangs going to war over lucrative drug turf. Last year, the homicide clearance rate in Chicago was just 33 percent, one of the lowest of any American city with a population over 500,000.

The following article by National Review’s Kevin Williamson gives readers a behind the scenes look at Chicago’s gangster subculture and why it is tearing that city apart.

Now, Chicago has turned to a new top-cop, Garry McCarthy, a former Newark, New Jersey, police chief and a former member of the NYPD command staff.  However, instead using a decentralized approach to crackdown on street gangs, McCarthy seems intent of carrying water for gun control advocates.

Dysfunction breeds dysfunction, which, in urban areas, often stems from an overdose of political correctness.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

The Cop Against the Machine


Madison PD Officer Stephen Heimsness

The term “cozen”—meaning deception to win gain by shrewd trickery—is typically the antithesis of the word “noble,” although this rule of the English language might no longer apply in some quarters of our state’s capitol, where some seasoned law enforcement veterans believe Police Officer Stephen Heimsness is in the process of getting railroaded.

This leads one to wonder: is the Madison Police Department’s version of The Cozen Protocol being hatched inside the offices of its chief-of-police, Noble Wray, with his internal investigators playing the perfunctory roles of Bullpen Detectives John Spinelli and Bob Hillmeyer?

At 2:45 AM on November 9 of last year, Heimsness responded to a report of a possible entry in progress at a home on Madison’s isthmus. As he approached the residence, the officer observed the homeowner struggling with a man, later identified a Paul Heenan.  The intoxicated man then moved towards the officer and, according to Heimsness, Heenan reached for his gun.  The two men then began to grapple. Believing that the only reason an attacker would seek to disarm a police officer is to turn the gun against him, Heimsness fired three shots, killing Heenan.

Of course the residents of Madison are acting like the far-left residents that they are—a town that the late Wisconsin Gov. Lee Dreyfus once described as “Thirty-square miles surrounded by a sea of reality.” From the comfort of their coffee houses on Williamson and State Streets many Madisonians are now expert armchair cops, second-guessing Heimsness at every turn, even though they know that about one-in-ten police officers murdered each year are killed with their own firearms.

Other former Madison officers active in liberal causes have also stalked the flames burning under Heimsness’ feet.  Cheri Maples, a former police captain who now serves as a Buddhist teacher, told the Wisconsin State Journal that while she was “…not in a position to question Officer Heimsness’ statement that he feared for his life, I sincerely believe few officers would have made the same choice in the same set of circumstances.”

After reading Maples’ quote, many current and former law enforcement officers are probably wondering if the former captain was ever in the same position as Heimsness—in a struggle with an intoxicated person reaching for her firearm? My guess is that she was not, which is why Maples used the third person when referencing what officers would do in the same circumstance.

My suggestion to both Maples and Wisconsin State Journal reporter Sandy Cullen is this: why not interview police officers who actually walked-a-mile in Heimsness’ shoes? In some instances, I recognize that this might be difficult to do, since many of them are now deceased.

Meanwhile, I believe, Madison’s police chief, Noble Wray, appears to want it both ways.  While he has steadfastly defended Heimsness’ actions in regards to the shooting, Wray, it seems, is beginning to buckle under the pressure brought to bear by the city’s left-wing political establishment.

On February 3, Wray announced that the Madison Police Department had opened three “new” investigations of Heimsness’ conduct unrelated to the shooting or to the use of force.

“Although these investigations are not complete,” Wray told the Wisconsin State Journal, “I find the preliminary information to be troubling.”

Whatever happened to the Madison Police Department’s policy of not commenting about ongoing internal investigations?

Moreover, negatively commenting on an internal investigation prior to its conclusion seems to run counter to civil service law.  Wisconsin State Statute 62.13(5)(em)3, states, that a police chief must “…before filing the charge against the subordinate, made a reasonable effort to discover whether the subordinate did in fact violate a rule or order.” How can the chief-of-police claim that he made a “reasonable effort” to substantiate a charge against an officer after he publicly claimed that “preliminary” information, absent all the facts, is “troubling”?

In preparation for this post, SF reached out to those who understand the internal politics of the Madison Police Department, as well as those that know Officer Heimsness. To a person, they had good things to say about Heimsness, although they also believed he is soon to fall victim to Madison’s version of The Cozen Protocol.  

When asked if the Madison PD was collecting dirt so they can threaten Officer Heimsness with the loss of his job and force him to resign, one officer replied, “You are right on. Things are not good.”


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Source: Milwaukee Police in the Midst of Procuring and Using Drones

In several earlier posts, the Spingola Files (SF) reported that local police departments in southeastern Wisconsin might soon be using drones to conduct surveillance.

Last week, SF learned, through a good source, that the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) is seriously considering procuring at least four drones at a cost of $15,000 each.  While the MPD is carefully researching and considering its Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) options, a likely candidate is the Draganfly X-6 drone, which weighs less than five pounds.  These hover craft are equipped with high definition cameras and also have infrared capabilities. 

Federal law currently permits law enforcement agencies to operate drones weighing less than 30 pounds without authorization from the FAA.  The UAV operator, however, is required to maintain a line-of-sight visual of the flying object.

The Draganflyer X-6 is electric and makes little noise while hovering.  The X-6 ‘s power source is an easy to install battery pack.  When the battery runs low, a computer directs the drone to return to the operator, who then installs a fresh battery.  This particular UAV does have the capability to see through the walls of buildings with the use of infrared heat sensors.  The X-6 can also follow vehicles and zoom-in to capture its license plate, as well as images of the vehicle’s occupants.  

Last month, the Seattle Police Department announced that it is set to deploy the Draganflyer X-6. To get closer look this particular UAV, view the below link.

“The drawback to this type of drone [the X-6],” said a source “is that it can’t be operated from a remote location. Ultimately, law enforcement will want this type of capability—rendering expensive helicopters obsolete.”

Make no mistake about it, though, the smaller Draganflyer X-6 UAV is a valuable tool.  During protests or civil disturbances, the MPD could conduct surveillance of crowds, stream live video to a command center, and then store photographs and video of participants.  Operatives at the MPD’s Intelligence Fusion center, using facial recognition software, could then, in less than an hour, identify those involved by comparing photographs from Wisconsin’s Real ID biometric database—obtained from drivers’ licenses, ID cards, and/or booking photos.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I, is available at

Spingola’s soon-to-be-released book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is set for release in December 2012.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012

Time to Take the Gloves Off: JS’s Anti-MPD Bias Requires Addressing

To view this article, please checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II available now at in December of 2012.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit


© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012




The Sock Puppet Cometh

Since his ascension to Milwaukee County Sheriff via appointment by then Gov. Scott McCallum, David Clarke, Jr. has never been afraid of controversy. 

The leaders of the sheriff’s rank-and-file union bristle at Clarke’s no-holds barred management style. Critics also claim that the sheriff is by no means a consensus builder. Yet one thing is certain: very few Milwaukee County residents can claim that they are unsure where the sheriff stands on issues of public safety.

In addition, it is no secret that Sheriff Clarke and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett mix like oil-and-water. The personalities of these two leaders, their political philosophies, and their management styles are the antithesis of each other.

Clarke, an African-American, is a law-and-order conservative; Barrett, who is white, is a touchy-feely liberal.

The mayor believes in leading by consensus, while the sheriff’s inspiration is Rudy Giuliani’s take the bull-by-the-horns style of leadership.

Barrett’s critics claim he is virtually invisible when it comes to critical issues facing the city. One of the mayor’s critics, WTMJ talk-radio host Charlie Sykes, notes that Barrett’s mug might appear on the side of a milk carton—a reference to a missing person. Clarke, on the other hand, is hands-on, very passionate about his public policy positions, and flamboyant in public. He is, on occasion, observed in cowboy garb while visiting Mitchell International Airport.

In the middle is Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele, a relative newcomer to executive office. A trust fund baby, Abele lacks any meaningful administrative experience, which, his critics argue, makes him little more than a sock puppet for Mayor Barrett.

One need not scratch too far below the surface to unravel the Barrett-Abele conspiracy to defund the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s office.

By state law, Sheriff Clarke is a constitutionally elected official.  In other words, unless the Barrett-Abele axis can defeat Clarke in an election, there’s not much Milwaukee’s liberal leaders can do to run the sheriff out of town. Instead, the county executive and the mayor have taken a different approach: minimizing Clarke’s ability to lead by gutting the sheriff’s budget.

Last year, Abele’s county budget resulted in significant layoffs of Milwaukee County Sheriff’s deputies, some of whom had nearly a decade on the job. This stab at Clarke reduced jail staffing to dangerous levels while using dedicated law enforcement professionals as pawns in a political power play.

The latest Machiavellian maneuver from the Barrett-Abele axis guts the sheriff’s budget by another $3.3 million by transferring patrols of the county parks from the sheriff’s department to local municipalities. The political scam, though, is in the details. Over $1.7 million—about 93 percent of the money dispatched to municipal law enforcement agencies to patrol the county parks in their jurisdictions—goes to one agency: the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD). This even though the vast majority of county park real estate is outside the Milwaukee city limits. Suburban law enforcement agencies would each receive, on average, about $7,000 apiece.

Talk to law enforcement veterans from Milwaukee County and, almost to a person, they chuckle when asked about MPD becoming the county park police.

“Besides county parks, there are also city parks in Milwaukee, where Milwaukee police are currently assigned,” said one former MPD veteran. “What kind of patrols do these city parks receive? No more attention than any other block in any squad area. As such, one can see where this is going. Barrett and Flynn will take the $1.7 million paid by Milwaukee County taxpayers, including those living in the suburbs, to off-set the MPD’s budget, while doing little, besides patrolling the Lake Park and Bradford Beach areas.”

Suburban Milwaukee County taxpayers should voice outrage by Chris Abele’s sloppy wet kiss to Tom Barrett’s city budget. This deal is so bad that the term ‘sock puppet’ is too flattering a reference to Abele, although the other euphemisms offered by some former coppers to address the specifics of the Barrett-Abele political relationship are not fit for print.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit


© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012


Update: More Info on Cell Phone Tracking, Police Authors

To view this article, please checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II available now at


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit


© Steven Spingola,Wales, WI, 2012

Drones and the Judge

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to in December 2012.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volume I, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012

Old School Sleuths Weigh-In on Most Current Crop of Detectives

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to in December 2012.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012 


[1] “Murder Mysteries: National Statistics.” 31 March 2012.

[2] “Murder Mysteries: National Statistics.” 31 March 2012.

[3] Hogue, B. “DNA Collection Bill Proposed.” March 2, 2012.  31 March 2012.

Memo to Mayor Barrett et al: Stop Minimizing, Start Investigating

Like many people, I have viewed the YouTube video of the so-called St. Patrick’s Day “fist fight” that occurred on N. Water Street—in the heart of Milwaukee’s downtown entertainment district. For readers who have not had a chance to watch the video, please visit the below link:

Yesterday, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn held a news conference chastising the media’s coverage of the Water Street hooliganism.

A “fist fight,” said Flynn, “…does not qualify as news. What is news is that we had close to 25,000 people on Water Street Saturday night without any major incidents.”[1]

However, the video shows that, while the brawl was not a “major” incident, it was much more than a simple “fish fight.” Cleary, one of the men involved receives a punch to the face and then falls to the street.  Several others surround the fallen man and deliver multiple kicks. A woman, attired in a green shirt and green afro, comes to the fallen man’s aide.  As he stands up, the man appears, at best, groggy, as if he had lost consciousness. As the badly injured man wanders into the crowd, the police quickly arrive.  In the finest traditions of the Milwaukee Police Department, the officers calmly and, without incident, restore order.

As of this writing, it is unknown what became of the suspects and the victim. Had the man who was beaten remained on the scene to pursue a complaint, this incident might have risen to the level of substantial battery—a felony, which makes this event and the large, unruly crowd that cheered it on, more than just a simple “fist fight.”

Moreover, I cannot recall the last time the Milwaukee Police Department requested that several nightclubs and taverns in an entertainment district close early due to one supposedly isolated “fist fight.”

Fortunately, the YouTube video of the St. Patrick’s brawl on Water Street does exist, which means interested parties can watch the crime in progress for themselves and then draw their own conclusions.  Unlike the widespread disorder after the July 4, 2011, fireworks near E. North Avenue and N. Humboldt Blvd., the existence of video prohibits police officials from minimizing the totality of the overall turmoil.[2]

Yet this is not the first time drunken no-goodniks have wreaked havoc in Milwaukee’s downtown.  In June 2008, gangbangers and other anti-social malcontents trashed Milwaukee’s RiverSplash, tossing bottles at police officers on horse back.

Afterwards, RiverSplash festival officials permanently cancelled the event.

In light of the St. Patrick’s Day brawl on Water Street, one has to wonder why a police chief would take time out of his busy schedule to blame the media for making note of the incident, especially when a video graphically depicts the crime. 

Politics, some believe, may be the answer.  Standing behind Chief Flynn at his news conference was Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett—a potential candidate for governor in this summer’s recall election. 

It is not a stretch to foresee a super PAC running an anti-Barrett television ad featuring the post-2007 Juneteenth Day violence[3], the 2008 mini-riot at RiverSplash, the beatings of innocent people outside of State Fair Park[4], and now the St. Patrick’s Day brawl, with a voice proclaiming, ‘Tom Barrett: he claims he wants to do for Wisconsin what he has done for Milwaukee. And fighting crime, Barrett clams, is his number one accomplishment.’

Instead of trying to minimize the disorder, the mayor should praise the timely response of the police, who performed professionally, and then promise to investigate and seek to prosecute those involved in the brawl to the full extent of the law.  Decisive leadership, not spin, is what registered voters expect.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012 


[1] Garza, J. “Flynn Criticizes News of St. Patrick’s Day Brawl.” March 19, 2012.  21 March 2012.

[2] “Ed Flynn, Riverwest Victims, Gordon Park Beating (Video).” July 7, 2011.  21 March 2012.

[3] “Violence at Milwaukee Juneteenth Day.” June 21, 2007.  21 March 2012.

[4] Walker, Don.  “State Fair Mêlées Produce 11 Injuries, 31 Arrests.” August 5, 2011. 21 March 2012.

As G-8 Summit Nears, Chicago is on the Hot Seat

From May 19-21, Chicago will host the G-8 economic summit where leaders from Japan, Italy, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Canada, Russia and the United States will meet in an attempt to iron out differences. Even though this affair will take place just over 100 miles to the southeast of Spingola Files HQ, many residents of southeastern Wisconsin are oblivious to the costs and dangers associated with the event’s security issues. 

During the 2010 G-20 Summit in Toronto, over 10,000 Canadian law enforcement officers and over 1,000 private security guards oversaw the event.[1] Chicago law enforcement administrators plan on getting by with just 5,000 sworn officers. Chicago police have ordered 3,057 face shields for its members and another 850 sworn personnel from other Illinois law enforcement agencies will provide a physical presence.[2]  With the Cook County jail already housing 9,250 prisoners, the facility is at 97 percent capacity, which means city officials will likely establish some type of temporary holding facility.

In 2010, the Toronto G-20’s security totaled $1 billion[3] , as the Canadian Integrated Security force arrested over 900 people.[4]

With Chicago being centrally located in the Midwest, some expect protestors to swarm the Windy City.  Newly elected Mayor Rahm Emanuel might find the number of anti-establishment groups at the G-8 eerily reminiscent of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, where a group of radicals and anti-war organizers clashed in the streets with the Chicago police, whose command staff received their marching orders from the legendary leader of the Democrat Party machine, Mayor Richard Daley.

Much has changed since 1968.  Chicago’s relatively new police superintendent, Garry McCarthy, is a former member of the New York City Police Department’s (NYPD) command staff, and has experience dealing with large protests. However, the NYPD has twice the number of sworn personnel as the Chicago PD, which means McCarthy must rely on reinforcements from suburban police departments and the Illinois State Police.  A proposed ordinance would also allow the City of Chicago to request assistance from out-of-state agencies, which means members of the Milwaukee Police Department’s Major Incident Response Team (MIRT) might be asked to lend a helping hand.

Left-wing organizations have already scheduled a variety of bizarre events, such as a May 15 national assembly to put the ‘war makers’ on trial.  Some of the groups that plan to demonstrate include the U.S. Palestinian Community Network, the Iraq Veterans Against the War, the University of Illinois-Chicago branch of the Students for a Democratic Society, the Committee to Stop FBI Repression, and the Episcopalian Peace Fellowship.[5]

By some estimates, over 10,000 officials, including politicians, generals and diplomats, from G-8 countries will likely attend. Moreover, since Chicago is President Obama’s hometown, the good money says the protestors might step things up a notch.

In addition, some leaders of Chicago’s political establishment are putting law enforcement on notice. Alderman Ricardo Munoz has introduced an anti-crackdown ordinance, which would prohibit government officials from shutting down electronic communications during the event.[6]

From a law enforcement perspective, the Chicago G-8 Summit is interesting affair, as thousands of anarchists will converge on a historically corrupt city, with an out-of-control gang problem, a new mayor facing international scrutiny, and a President looking for something to boost his sagging approval numbers. 

No doubt, the Chicago PD’s intelligence fusion center is working overtime to prevent a Seattle-like debacle.  


As of 9 p.m. CDT, The Cozen Protocol, a crime novel based on events surrounding the Milwaukee Police Department, shot-up to #5 on’s list of criminal procedure books.

A few months ago, I discussed the book with WUWM’s Stephanie Lecci.  To hear the interview, click the following link.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012

[1] Currie, Mary Beth. “Canada: Toronto G-8 and G-20 Summits—Employer Planning Issues.” May 6, 2010.  2 March 2012.

[2] Speilman, F, Main, F. & Donovan, L. “Case Closed? Courtrooms maybe Shut for NATO, G-9 Summits.” February 23, 2012. 2 March 2012.

[3] Delacourt, S. “G-20 Security Tab: What Else Could $1 Billion Buy.” May 28, 2010.  2 March 2012.–what-can-1-billion-buy?bn=1

[4] Young, J. “G8/G20 Leaves Canada with Big Hangover.” July 2, 2010. 2 March 2012.

[5] “Chicago: Protests Called for NATO and G8 Summits.” June 26, 2011.  2 March 2012.

[6] Babwin, D. “Anti-Crackdown Ordinance? Alderman Munoz Wants NATO, G-8 Protestors to Have Wireless Access.” February 15, 2012.  2 March 2012.

When the Shoe is on the Other Foot, the Data Revolution Makes Those in Blue Cringe

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to in December 2012.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012

Newspaper’s ‘Hatchet Job’ a Disservice to those in Blue

Over the course of the past week, like Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, the Spingola Files (SF) staff has taken a deep breath while digesting the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s (JS) attempt to tar a  group of, by-in-large, dedicated Milwaukee police officers with a mile-long brush of misconduct—one that spans nearly 30 years. 

Having worked for the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) for parts of four decades, and having served as a supervisor in the Criminal Investigation Bureau, I can say, without any hesitation, that the MPD’s command staff does not take police misconduct lightly.

There are, however, profound degrees of misconduct. 

Providing a driver’s license to a friend over two-decades ago, so that the friend could enter a tavern, is hardly newsworthy in 2011.  Do the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Watchdogs actually believe that a young officer—guilty of such a minor infraction —should be run-off  the police force? 

If those at the JS expect perfection, good luck.  A state-wide search by Ms. Barton et al would probably uncover only a handful of today’s college graduates with Pope Benedict XVI-like backgrounds.  Like those who have passed before them, today’s police recruits are microcosms of America’s twenty-something demographic, which, in 2011, is the reality TV generation.    

SF certainly is not alone in concluding that the newspaper’s attempt to discredit one of the nation’s best big-city police department’s is simply a hit piece—where the prior journalistic reporting of the author seems to suggest that the research conducted was done with the intent to validate an hypothesis’ aforethought.

Appearing on Mark Belling’s WISN afternoon talk show, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn minced no-words, equating the JS investigation to killing a flea with a sledgehammer. The police chief referred to the newspaper’s three part series as “a hatchet job.”

Writing at the Badger Blogger, retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis also takes aim at the JS series.  As was the case with his scores at the academy’s shooting range, Frankovis’ comments hit the mark.

“Then there’s the grievous case of another Police Aide, Paul Zientek,” Frankovis notes, “who got into an altercation back in 1988 with a guy whose record you just have to check on CCAP. With that knowledge, and after reading the IAD investigation, ask yourself how you would have responded?”

But instead of touching-base with her contacts at the MPD (if any officers actually exist that might trust this particular reporter), the JS staff had no problems publishing Zientek’s photograph on the front page of the newspaper.

Based on my experiences, as well as the observations of other officers, detectives, and supervisors, Paul Zientek is a decent, caring human being—a solid cop who comes to work with a positive attitude to protect and serve the residents of Milwaukee. Failing to conduct a high-degree of due diligence before taking a pot shot at a stand-up person, like Zientek, is, in my opinion, akin to character assassination.

Chief Flynn’s very blunt comments chastising the JS series on the Mark Belling Late Afternoon Show paint a portrait of a high-level police administrator who understands the concept of trust-based policing. Through his decades-long travels through multiple law enforcement agencies, Flynn has walked-a-mile in the shoes of the officers on the street.  While some police administrators and others in the media are sometimes too willing to throw the rank-and-file under the bus to advance their careers, Milwaukee’s current police chief delicately balances matters of officer discipline with the department’s accountability to the community. The chief’s remarks supporting his officers—those who toil in some of the most impoverished parts of the country and see things that would make most people’s heads spin—are gratifying to those who wear or have worn a badge, over the years, for the MPD.

Moreover, for the sake of improving their perception amongst rank-and-file law enforcement, the staff at the JS might want to pick-up a copy of The Cozen Protocol. The  vernacular used to describe the local newspaper, as well as the book’s overall description of the media in general, while fictional, contains some biting truths that the Fourth Estate might want to address.

To hear Chief Flynn’s interview in its entirety, visit:


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

 © Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

Hoosier for a Day

On Monday, the Spingola Files (SF) takes a road trip to Bloomington, Indiana, where I will address a group of Hoosier state forensic investigators from the Indiana Division of the International Association of Identification (IDIAI).  The topic is the Psychology of Homicide, a presentation SF provides throughout the U.S. and Canada.

Since each group SF addresses is, in its own way, unique, I tweak the Psychology of Homicide presentation before traveling to different venues.

 I’ve already been warned to purchase gas in any place but Illinois, where the long-arm of that state’s tax collectors digs deep into the wallets of consumers. Should Illinois’ highway tolls continue to increase at their current pace, it might become more cost effective to fly over Chicago.

Milwaukee Crime Novel Surges at

The Milwaukee-based crime novel, The Cozen Protocol, surged to #1 this week on’s list of criminal procedure books.

A good source relates the sale of the book’s rights to a West Coast Company is now “up in the air,” as screenwriters want to change The Cozen Protocol’s venue from Milwaukee to Los Angeles or San Francisco.

First, it was Dirty Harry—a movie some locals see as based on the career of Milwaukee’s late police chief, Harold Brier, and, now, left coast-types want to hijack The Cozen Protocol’s plot.  

The rumor mill has it that, although fictional, some high-rankers at Milwaukee Police Department are not particularly fond of the novel’s overall theme.

But long-time Milwaukee law enforcement veterans think otherwise.

The Cozen Protocol was a great read, as the author spun a great mystery with similarities to real incidents,” writes retired MPD Detective Larry Powalisz. “It brought back some fond memories of stuff that was going on throughout my career.”

To find out more, listen to my interview with WUWM’s Stephanie Lecci.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. 

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

 © Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

Kabuki Policing

Earlier this month, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Ben Poston struck a nerve with city officials by highlighting a notable decrease in police response times.

“Compared with 2007 figures,” Poston notes, “police response lagged in 13 of 15 major call categories – only responses to shooting and theft from a vehicle were faster.”

 The Journal Sentinel article further examines a June 16 traffic fatality of an 82-year-old man. The Milwaukee Fire Department arrived in five minutes; however, it took Milwaukee police two hours to respond.  Known, back in the day, as a 20-pointer, a fatal motor vehicle accident should, without question, prompt a timely response.

In another instance, 45 minuets lapsed before officers arrived at a fatal stabbing, where the suspect contacted 9-1-1 and all but confessed to the crime. 

While a tardy law enforcement response to crimes in progress might compromise an ensuing investigation, arriving at calls for service hours after the fact leaves the public with the impression that the police no longer care.

“….a Dispatch policy which discourages people from calling by providing a slow response or no response at all will ultimately discourage people from calling and to lose trust and confidence in the Police Department,” retired Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) Captain Glenn Frankovis noted at the Badger Blogger. “Further, when people stop calling to report crimes, those crimes do not get reflected in crime stats. It’s like the old saying, ‘If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, did it make a noise?’ In this case, ‘If a crime occurs, but no one reports it, did it happen? Could that be why ‘Crime is down’?”

Unfortunately, this dispatch policy exists due to a significant decrease in staffing levels. Depending on which police department insider one speaks with, the MPD is 200 to 400 sworn personnel below its authorized complement. According to one source, a staffing shortage on the day shift recently limited District Five to three, two officer squads, which means just six officers covered a gritty area of over 100,000 residents.  

These day shift staffing levels are woefully inadequate, as the public, as well as the criminal element, needs to know that the police will respond to serious incidents in a timely manner.

So why is it that the City of Milwaukee chooses to under staff its police department?

The consensus is that city leaders have other priorities.  Whether it is the outrageously expensive $76 million—seemingly never-ending—city hall renovation project, spending millions in operating costs to run an electric trolley 2.5 miles through downtown, or providing funding to community organizations, political leaders seem to believe that the MPD can succeed while cutting corners.  After all, crime stats are down. 

Of course, if it takes two or three hours to respond to calls for service, by the time the police arrive, victims might not stick around.  Hence, an officer need not generate a report and, at least on paper, no crime occurred.

Call it Kabuki policing, where the best kind of crime stat is the one that, predictably, never finds its way onto paper.

The good news is Journal Sentinel reporter Ben Poston highlighted the problem. Unless the public complains, however, city leaders will continue to divert resources and deplete police staffing levels. Think about it: the City of Milwaukee, without blinking an eye, is willing to layout $2.5 million in annual operating costs for a trolley very few will ever ride instead of hiring 25 police officers.

And on another note, whatever happened to reporters checking and verifying the clearance rates of various felonies? If suspects remain at large to reoffend, victims will find little solace hopping on the trolley.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. 

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

 © Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

The Mitchell Nevin Enigma

To view this article, please checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, available now at


Steve Spingola is a retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your organization is in need of an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

© Steve Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

Reason, Not Demagoguery, Needed on Police Pay Issue

The issue for many outside of law enforcement, including journalists, is difficult to understand; however, when it comes to “pay” for “fired” Milwaukee police officers, the facts are rarely explained well by members of the media, including those in talk-radio.

Officers are fired for a variety of reasons.  In most instances, when a termination proceeding is initiated, an officer is convicted of a crime.  I find this somewhat ironic since a handful of police departments in Wisconsin actually hire applicants with minor criminal convictions (disorderly conduct or first offense OWI, which in most states is a misdemeanor).

Being Wisconsin’s only Class A city—defined by state law as a municipality with a population of over 500,000—many state laws applicable to Milwaukee do not affect other cities, villages or towns.  This is why political leaders out-state often refer to Wisconsin’s only Class A city as ‘the State of Milwaukee.’

The administration of police departments, as well as the disciplinary process involving police officers, is tied to Milwaukee’s Class A designation.  Unfortunately, some in the media—those with a rather noticeable bias against Milwaukee officers—have contorted and twisted the issue to the point that requires a reasoned explanation.  

For whatever reason—one that has never been fully explained—the Milwaukee Police Department’s chief of police is the only leader of a municipal law enforcement agency in Wisconsin that can subjectively and arbitrarily fire a police officer.  In all other municipal jurisdictions, a police chief can simply recommend to their respective police and fire commissions that an officer be terminated.  These commissions then conduct a just cause hearing to affirm the police chief’s recommendation or collectively confer to make their own disciplinary recommendations.  However, police officers from every other municipal jurisdiction receive their pay throughout the hearing process. 

The way the law now stands, police officers in Milwaukee are the ONLY officers in the state that immediately forfeit salary based on the arbitrary and subjective findings of their police chief.

Some left-wing police haters, fiscal conservatives, and country club types, you know the crowd—those that sit on their confortable suburban patios sipping cocktails, while lacking the intestinal fortitude required to patrol Milwaukee’s inner city—could care less.  They argue two points:  that officers are rarely fired without cause and that fired officers can receive back pay if they are reinstated by the Fire and Police Commission. 

Now, imagine you are an officer fired arbitrary and wrongfully by the police chief.  You depend on your salary to pay the mortgage and need a health insurance plan to cover your family, but, because you either did something politically incorrect or work for a particular unit within the department on the outs with the chief of police, you find yourself fired without so much as a just cause hearing.  State leaders, as well as the editorial board at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, apparently believe that law enforcement salaries are so lavish that individual officers should simply set aside $25,000 to $50,000 in case they become political hot potatoes.

And for those who argue that few are rarely disciplined unjustifiably, cases abound of officers being targeted by agents of the police chief.  In Milwaukee, for example, Police Chief Arthur Jones’  Internal Affairs investigators planted a gun in a dumpster on Mitchell Street, instructed a gang member on probation to call officers in the gang unit to tell them the gun was in the dumpster, and then, when the officers recovered the gun with their supervisor’s approval, had tactical enforcement officers whisk the two officers away.  Calls where then made to the Milwaukee County DA’s office in an attempt to have the officers investigated for extortion.  After a deputy DA scoffed, the officers where investigated and later charged with rule violations.  In the interim, they were both transferred for basically doing their jobs.

Once upon a time, another Milwaukee police chief fired a male and a female officer for adulterous conduct that occurred in the privacy of the female officers’ residence.  Read the below link to see the scathing rebuke of the police chief by the Wisconsin Supreme Court:

Now, once a police and fire commission terminates a police officer in any jurisdiction in Wisconsin, pay to the employee immediately ceases.  Since members of these commissions are political appointees of the mayor, officers may appeal their terminations through the courts, but do not receive pay while doing so.  And, over the course of the past three decades, the courts—recognizing that the Fire and Police Commission is sometimes little more than a political dog-and-pony show—have reinstated police officers.

One recent case is that of Detective Phil Sliwinski, fired by Police Chief Arthur Jones.  The City of Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission upheld Jones’ firing, even as they denied Sliwinski the right to call a witness.  A Wisconsin appeals court ordered Sliwinski reinstated and Circuit Court Judge Timothy Dugan ordered the city to fork over $328,321 in back pay, as Sliwinski went unpaid for almost five years during the ensuing court fight.

Unfortunately, what transpires on the seventh floor offices of the Police Administration Building sometimes provides the  fodder for novels like The Cozen Protocol.

For those concerned with due process and rightful discipline—not selling papers or scoring political points—a better state-wide policy is a level the playing field for ALL Wisconsin police officers.  If police chiefs throughout Wisconsin are prohibited from arbitrary and subjectively firing police officers without a just cause hearing, then why can’t Milwaukee’s police chief play by the same rules?


Steve Spingola is a retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. 

If your organization is in need of an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

© Steve Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

Rants of a Sane Man, Part II

Bail Debacle 

Tucked inside the pending state budget is a proposal that would allow bail bondsmen to, once again, raise their ugly heads in Wisconsin. 

“Anytime you place profit-driven organizations in control of an individual’s liberty, corruption must be a major concern,” Chief Judge John Storck of the Sixth Judicial District told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “The bail [bondsmen] system unfairly penalizes low-income defendants who can’t afford the un-refundable fee. It subverts the justice system, because defendants who can afford to buy their freedom – even those that may pose a relatively greater risk – are free to go at a much lower cost than under the current system.”

Judge Storck has it half right.

In states where bail bond is lawful, a private entity, typically called ‘a bondsman,’ posts a defendant’s bail.  In most instances, the defendant is required to pay the bondsmen ten percent of the total sum of the bail.  The bondsman, in turn, posts the entire amount with the court.  When the case is closed, the total amount of bail is then refunded to the bondsman, who keeps the ten percent posted by the defendant as a fee for services.

In Illinois, for example, former police sergeant Drew Peterson is awaiting trial for the alleged slaying of this third wife. Peterson is currently in custody, although his bail is set at $2 million. If Peterson provided $200,000 to a bail bondsman, the bondsman would then post the $2 million with the court.  Regardless of the case’s outcome, however, the $200,000 would forever belong to the bail bondsman. 

In the past, the powers-that-be in state government recognized that the bail bond operation fostered an atmosphere of corruption. Like other private corporations, bail bondsmen compete against each other.  Since most bail bondsmen require a ten percent non-refundable deposit from defendants, getting a leg-up on a competitor might necessitate paying a kick back to a police officer or sheriff’s deputy recommending a certain bondsman’s services. The kick back could come in the form of free tickets to sporting events, free booze, and/or discounted vacation packages. 

Moreover, in states employing a bail bond system, bail is generally much higher.  After all, like other citizens, individual bail bondsmen can contribute to political campaigns of judges. High bail set by individual judges means a larger, ten percent premium forfeited to bondsmen.  

Back in the old days, when the mob ran a protection racket in town, the term for such a fraud was ‘one hand washing the other.’

On Tap: South Side Gang War

In late May, a Milwaukee police officer fired a shot at an armed gunman near 10th and Orchard, an area with a long history of gang related trouble.  In the immediate aftermath of the incident, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn held roll call for his officers on the street and told the media that trouble was brewing between three street gangs in the area.

The near south side to the east of South 20th Street is known as Latin King turf, although other gangs, the Unknown Kings and La Familia operated, in the recent past, just a few blocks to the west and north respectively, while the Mexcian Posse refuses to religate its operations to recognized geographical borders.  Another street gang infamous for dealing crack to local prostitutes, the Spanish Cobras, is attempting to sneak east of S. 19th Street.

Sources say the Latin Kings are making yet another come back, of sorts, after a second round of federal indictments.

Gangs seek to control an area to reap the rewards of the drug trade. The money is big, as are the risks, and there are no courts to arbitrate disputes in the shadowy world of the narcotics traffickers. Mitchell Nevin’s Milwaukee-based crime novel, The Cozen Protocol, is an accurate depiction of the drug underworld on the city’s south side, where two, fictional south side Latino gangs–Los Dominicanos and the Latin Maniacs–slug it out.

Like La Costa Nostra crime families, street gangs seem to have little problem filling their ranks no matter how many federal indictments come down. All law enforcement can do is make life as miserable as a possible for those profiting by destroying the social fabric of entire neighborhoods. 

This link to WTMJ radio indicates that a rash of recent violence could escalate with the summer weather:


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your organization is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files presentation The Psychology of Homicide. For more information, view the YouTube ad:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

Rants of a Sane Man

Concealed Carry: Wisconsin’s Joint Finance Committee Makes the Right Call

The Wisconsin legislature’s Joint Finance Committee approved recommendations to make Wisconsin the 49th state to approve the concealed carry of firearms.  The law would require those lawfully seeking to carry firearms concealed to receive training and to obtain permits.  Individuals over the age of 21—not prohibited from possessing firearms by either state or federal law—are eligible for permits. The law is a solid compromise.  Retired or long-serving law enforcement officers and those honorably discharged from the military may obtain waviers from the training portion of the bill.

State Senator Lena Taylor continues to demagogue the issue.  Taylor told Channel 4 News that persons who have domestic violence on their records would have access to permits.  Since she is an attorney, one has to assume that Senator Taylor knows the difference between a rap sheet and a record.  A rap sheet is list of arrests.  A record is a notation of criminal convictions.  An arrest, as far as the criminal justice system is concerned, means relatively little.  Annually, about 50 percent of those arrested in Wisconsin are not convicted of crimes.  There is a big difference between probable cause to affect an arrest and the proof beyond a reasonable doubt required to obtain a criminal conviction.  Moreover, persons convicted of acts of domestic violence are prohibited by the federal law from possessing firearms. As such, they are not eligible for concealed carry permits in Wisconsin. 

Shorewood Police Catch Undue Flack for Textbook High-Risk Traffic Stop

Tonight, Channel 4 News also featured a segment pertaining to the traffic stop of Shorewood High School track coach Dominic Newman.

Shorewood officers stopped Newman early Sunday morning after receiving a call of a possible stolen auto. As law enforcement training throughout the state dictates, the officers conducted a high-risk traffic stop. 

I viewed the dash cam video displayed on the newscast.  The Shorewood police officers did a textbook job of executing the stop. 

After Newman was placed in handcuffs and secured in the rear of a squad car, Shorewood officers investigated further and realized they had the wrong party.

“You have not my, but Shorewood Police Department’s sincerest apology,” said an officer on the dash cam’s video. “We don’t mean to embarrass you, but we have to check things out.”

The Shorewood police deserve a pat on the back, not flack from the media, for their display of true professionalism. 

After all, if the car had been stolen, did Mr. Newman actually expect the police to simply walk-up to the driver’s side window and ask for his license?

Watch Channel Four’s story regarding the stop of Mr. Newman by visiting:

Could Weiner Get Whacked?  

Some residents of New York Congressman Anthony Weiner’s district believe lewd and crude online antics are a personal matter that should not preclude him from holding public office.  An alleged phone-sex conversation Weiner had with a woman, however, could result in his political demise.

After the alleged conversation ended, the woman called Weiner back at the number left on her caller ID.  The woman received a voice mail message indicating that the telephone number was for outgoing calls from members of the United States Congress. 

It is this alleged call, no doubt, that will cause congressional ethics committee members to look long-and-hard at Weiner’s use of government owned property for personal gratification.

Milwaukee-Based Crime Novel Surges at

Mitchell Nevin’s Milwaukee-based crime mystery, The Cozen Protocol, surged to #2 this week on’s list of criminal procedure books, reports a news release from the book’s publisher.

In mid-February, retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis posted his book review of The Cozen Protocol here at the Spingola Files (see the below link):

I have tipped-off more than a few media outlets about the this well researched novel.  With a few exceptions, it appears local news departments are content covering stories of dirty restaurants and bad, seasonable weather to explore a work some law enforcement veterans see as outstanding.  

Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide Ad Now Posted @ YouTube

Over the course of the past several months, I have traveled to various locales to present the Psychology of Homicide, a Spingola Files’ feature highlighting a few high profile investigations.

A new ad for this interesting event is now up-and-running at YouTube:


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your organization is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files presentation The Psychology of Homicide.  For more information, visit

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

The Coming of Concealed Carry

On occasion, I receive e-mails from a retired Milwaukee detective, who, at the end of each communication notes, “It takes the police approximately five minutes to respond to the average 9-1-1 call, while a .40 round travels 990 feet per second.”

The point being: when citizens need the police in a matter of seconds, in the majority of instances, law enforcement is just minutes away.

The ‘armed citizen’ is, to law enforcement working the streets, a doubled-edge sword.  After all, when dealing with situations that could potentially end their lives, police officers like to play the odds, which is why they typically place the first cuff on an arrestee’s right hand.  With 90 percent of Americans being right handed, securing the strong hand first is just good sense.

Mathematically, an officer may believe having more firearms on the street could increase the odds of additional encounters with irrational gun owners.

Flip the coin over, however, and it is the officers on the street—those who see the faces of death all too frequently—that recognize the poignancy of the retired detective’s axiom.

“Reality,” as Robert Ringer notes, “isn’t the way you wish things to be, or the way they appear to be, but the way they actually are.”

It is the reality of deterrence—the bad guys getting justifiably blasted during the commission of their violent crimes—that will ultimately affect the mentality of the thug element.

About a decade-and-a-half ago, if my memory serves me correctly, a dose of reality bit a would-be armed robber in the behind during a mid-day stick-up of a Taco Bell restaurant, less than a mile from the Milwaukee Police Department’s Training Academy.  Because Wisconsin law prohibits law-abiding citizens from carrying concealed firearms, the robber saw the restaurant’s cashier—a person making probably a few cents over minimum wage—as an easy target.  Little did he know that a man behind him, dressed casually in plain clothes for police in-service training, was a carrying his firearm concealed  The barrel of a Sig Sauer pointed, just inches from the robber’s head, brought an immediate, yet peaceful, resolution to the crime in progress.

Then there is the saga of the young, unarmed Asian girl working the counter of her family’s restaurant.  When robbers burst into the eatery and demanded cash, the young girl—frightened beyond words—simply froze, which resulted in her immediate execution. Even grizzled homicide detectives winced at this senseless death, as the young girl’s mother wept in their arms.

So, as the Wisconsin legislature debates the nuts-and-bolts of a bill that enables citizens to pack hidden heat, many police officers are more than a tad apprehensive of the one-half of the double-edged sword staring them in the face. These fears seem to center around gang members legally carrying concealed weapons and the police having no authority to disarm the criminal element.

Yet even the proposals allowing constitutional carry would prohibit persons under the age of 21 from carrying a concealed weapon.  How many gang members make it to their 21st birthday without a felony conviction?  Federal law, specifically the Lautenburg amendment, makes it a crime for individuals convicted of acts of domestic violence from simply possessing firearms. Moreover, a magistrate certainly has the ability to restrict those on bail from having access to weapons of any type.  

Consider a breakdown of the probable numbers of persons prohibited, or potentially prohibited, from carrying concealed firearms:

Wisconsin population:                                5.65 million

Persons under 21-years-of-age:              1.4 million

*Persons on Probation:                                    339,300

**Persons on Bail:                                               180,000   

#Persons convicted of felonies:                    239,000 

Persons prohibited from carrying:      ##2.158 million 

These numbers suggest that approximately 38.5 percent of Wisconsin residents would not meet the simple criteria to carry a concealed firearm under the auspices of constitutional carry.

As such, I am reasonably optimistic that an experienced officer—one with a solid working knowledge of the law—will possess the tools needed to protect him or herself and the public.

The devil, however, is in the final details of the bill.

*Based on the percentage of Americans on probation but adjusted for Wisconsin’s population.

**Premised on the assumption that 46 percent of arrests for 2009 crimes in Wisconsin were subsequently charged and the accused released on conditions of bail.

#Based on the percentage of Americans convicted of felonies but adjusted for Wisconsin’s population.

##Does not include individuals federally prohibited from possessing firearms due to domestic violence convictions and those prohibited due to mental illness.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

If your organization is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files presentation The Psychology of Homicide.  For more information, visit

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

It is Now Official: Prosser Wins

Having made a serious examination of both candidates for Wisconsin Supreme Court, SF took the unusual step of encouraging readers to vote for Justice David Prosser. 

During this debate, SF asked its readers to consider the men and women wearing blue and brown uniforms—many of whom toil under difficult conditions—to keep the streets of Milwaukee and many other Wisconsin communities’ safe for all to enjoy.

SF cited Rick Sandoval’s endorsement of Justice Prosser, as it related to the shooting of his squad partner, Mike Lutz, as one significant reason to vote Prosser.

In turn, SF also called out those who would put “dollars over sense,” as, I believe, the Madison Professional Police Officers Association did when endorsing Prosser’s Green Party supporting opponent, Joanne Kloppenburg.

Today, it is official. Counted and certified, the voters of Wisconsin have reelected Justice Prosser to a ten-year term on the state supreme court by 7,316 votes.

It is now time for the Kloppenburg camp to concede defeat.

Clearly, Wisconsin is divided state politically.  Yet, when it comes to officer safety, the majority of voters got it and put a real pragmatist back on the bench.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

© Steve Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

A ‘Real Go-Getter’ Steps Up

Rick Sandoval, a veteran Milwaukee police officer and a real go-getter, is featured in an ad for Justice David Prosser, a Wisconsin supreme court justice standing for reelection on April 5.

The 30-second spot provides some insight into the legal battle surrounding the shooting of Police Officer Mike Lutz.

On October 3, 2005, as he had done for the past 16-years, Mike Lutz arrived for duty with the Milwaukee Police Department.  Little did he know that this would be—for all practical purposes—his last official day as a street cop.

Lt. Mike Dubis, Sgt. Mike Hartert, Sandoval, Lutz, and Officer John Osowski rolled-up to execute a no-knock search warrant for weapons at 905 W. Harrison Street—an apartment building wedged between the street and the Kinnickinnic River to the south.  Sgt. Hartert was in full uniform, while the other officers present were dressed in civilian attire with their badges plainly visible.  A man, who was outside when the officers arrived in their unmarked squad cars and shouting “police” and “search warrant” in both English and Spanish, ran inside Apartment Four—the search warrant’s targeted location. When the officers attempted for force the door, the man tried to hold the door shut.

“I proceeded to the door. I announce ‘Milwaukee police. Milwaukee police,’ Lutz testified. “I have my gun in my right hand extended before me, and I have my left hand out to push open the door, and I start pushing open the door as I’m yelling, ‘Milwaukee Police.’

“The door gets open approximately 12 inches. And I’m able to see a refrigerator to my left, and I see Mr. Payano leaning over the refrigerator pointing a gun at me. It happened very quickly.

“Just as the door was opened and I glanced, I didn’t have the time to bring my gun over. I heard one shot fired.”

As a defense, Payano claimed he did not know that the men forcing the door were police officers.

Common sense should have kicked-in here, as the location is a rough part of the city of Milwaukee—an area where street gangs have operated for years.  The officers were driving unmarked Ford Crown Victorias and Sgt. Hartert was wearing a police uniform.

But common sense is not always so common.

A Circuit Court judge shot down Payano’s claim of self-defense, although the court of appeals then overturned the lower court’s ruling.

The case then reached the Wisconsin State Supreme Court.

“We conclude,” wrote Justice Prosser for the majority, “that, because the circuit court made its ruling using the appropriate legal standards under Sullivan, sufficiently explained its rationale on the record, and came to a reasonable conclusion, we must affirm its decision to admit the other acts evidence against Payano.”

Because of this ruling, prosecutors were able to obtain a conviction of Officer Lutz’s assailant.

The shooting, however, seriously damaged Mike Lutz’s arm.  He later received a duty disability.  Sources tell SF that Lutz is set to graduate from the University of Wisconsin law school in May. 

And although police officers receive duty-disabilities, retire, and move on with their lives, it is great to see Rick Sandoval willing to stand-up and speak out in support of his former partner and a state supreme court justice who understands the dangers confronting frontline officers on a daily basis.

To read the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s lengthy opinion, visit:


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

Letter from State Police Union Executive Draws Fire

The consensus amongst several of SF’s readers is that James Palmer, the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Officers Association (WPPA), is a man whose tactics have disgraced that organization’s rank-and-file members.

Palmer, and other so-called law enforcement professionals, drew the ire of some for sending a letter to Mr. Tom Ellis, the President of the Marshall and Ilsely (M&I) Corporation.

“As you also know,” Palmer writes in the letter to Ellis, “Scott Walker did not campaign on this issue [limiting collective bargaining for public employees] when he ran for office. If he had, we are confident that you would not be listed among his largest contributors.”

Then comes the quid pro quo shake down.

“The undersigned groups would like your company to publicly oppose Governor Walker’s efforts to virtually eliminate collective bargaining for public employees in Wisconsin.  While we appreciate that you may need some time to consider this request, we ask for your response by March 17. In the event that you do not respond to this request by that date, we will assume that you stand with Governor Walker and against the teachers, nurses, police officers, fire fighters, and other dedicated public employees who serve our communities.

“In the event that you cannot support this effort to save collective bargaining, please be advised that the undersigned will publicly and formally boycott the goods and services provided by your company. However, if you join us, we will do everything in our power to publicly celebrate your partnership in the fight to preserve the right of public employees to be heard at the bargaining table.”

Palmer’s letter caused a collective gasp from many law enforcement veterans.

In fact, Glenn Frankovis, a retired Milwaukee Police Department captain, mentioned that several of his law enforcement contacts view Palmer’s threats as extortion. 

For the record, James Palmer is not and has never been a law enforcement officer.  Those familiar with the inner-workings of the WPPA describe Palmer as a dyed-in-the-wool Madison liberal and an ally of former Wisconsin Governor Jim Doyle.

On February 5, 2009, Doyle appointed Palmer to the Higher Educational Aids Board.  Palmer also provided political cover by standing at Doyle’s side when the then governor announced an early release program for felons from Wisconsin prisons.   Since Milwaukee bore the brunt of the burden, Police Chief Ed Flynn and Mayor Tom Barrett took issue with the state’s catch-and-release initiative.

Now Palmer’s letter to the M&I executive has law enforcement veterans questioning his ethics and his regard for the WPPA’s overall membership.

One current officer provided this behind-the-scenes view.  During a February 19, 2011, rally in Madison, the WPPA established a reception area at the Concourse Hotel on Dayton Street so that officers on break from capitol security could stop-in for food and water.  While at the reception area, Palmer was beaming after meeting the Rev. Jesse Jackson.  “He [Palmer],” according to the officer, “was clearly star-struck.”  

Another law enforcement veteran took issue with the content of Palmer’s letter to Ellis.

“Palmer et al were untruthful in their letter to Mr. Ellis. Police officers and fire fighters received an exception in the budget repair bill [from Gov. Walker].  Palmer appears more intent on turning the dues collected from WPPA members into a funding mechanism for the Democrat Party than in doing what is in the best interest of his members.”

Others noted the tactics used by Palmer and his fellow co-signers.  

“State and local union leaders blew it,” wrote another. “E-mails released by Walker show that he was willing to remove the cap on wages to get the missing 14 Democrat state senators back to the capitol to vote. Increases in wages would have off-set some of the required contributions to pensions and health care — a win for those in the state pension system, since retirement benefits are determined by averaging the highest three years of earnings.  Over time, continued wage hikes might increase pension payments several thousand dollars a year.  Instead, Mr. Palmer and the 14 Democrat senators listened to their masters from Organizing America.  This ploy resulted in the union workers being used as pawns while walking away from the table empty handed.”

“Palmer and the leaders of the local firefighter and police union in Madison,” another notes, “belong to a group of ingrates more interested in hocking the wares of the Democrats than protecting their members.”

And two weeks ago, John Balcerzak, the former president of the Milwaukee Police Association—the collective bargaining unit representing rank-and-file Milwaukee police officers and detectives—e-mailed WTMJ radio to distance sworn law enforcement officers from the WPPA executive director.  “Jim Palmer is not a police officer,” Balcerzak noted.  “He is a lawyer.”

As SF noted in an earlier post, during heated political discourse, labor unrest, or civil strife, law enforcement officers become the uniformed arbitrators of fairness.

One section of The Law Enforcement Code of Ethics reads, “I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions,” which is why some law enforcement veterans find a Youtube video of one Madison officer’s rants particularly troubling. 

Police Sergeant Dave McClurg pays homage to the protestors by identifying himself as an officer with the Madison Police Department.  Most law enforcement agencies have rules prohibiting their members from using their position to advance causes and/or political positions.  But McClurg, who portrays himself as a former Republican, conveniently fails to mention that he is the Vice President of the Madison Professional Police Officers Association—a group that openly opposes Walker’s budget repair bill.

Certainly, the political rift amongst law enforcement officers concerning the governor’s budget repair bill runs deep.  But politics aside, those who use questionable and unethical tactics should heed the words of our nation’s 16th president.

Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” 

WPPA Executive Director James Palmer and those who co-signed the letter to Tom Ellis have failed Honest Abe’s test miserably .


Steve Spingola is an author and former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective

© Steve Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011