Posts tagged “Jesse Garza

Is Milwaukee Sliding Back into the Homicide Abyss?

Ringing in the New Year with a bang is, unfortunately, a tradition practiced in some of Milwaukee’s troubled -neighborhoods.  

I vividly recall the first 30 minutes of a recently ushered-in 1980s New Year, as my squad partner and I stood just outside of District Five.  Initially, some of the area’s residents celebrated with small arms fire.  Within a few minutes, the blasts grew increasingly louder, as if some sort of competition existed to see who had the largest caliber handgun. 

Nonetheless, this bizarre and extremely dangerous form of celebration is the impetus for annual reflection, especially when tallying the number of yearly homicides. 

The FBI’s Uniform Crime Reports (UCR) confirm that homicide is the crime most often reported, which is why media outlets tend to focus on the number of bodies that turn-up at the local morgue.   Over the last 15 years, though, many law enforcement veterans believe that significant improvements in trauma care have skewed the homicide rate as a gage for violence.  Instead, some—like retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis—believe the number of persons shot and/or involved in gunfights are a better barometer of violent crime trends.

Locally, how violent crime is measured will once again become a heated topic of debate.  In 2010, Milwaukee’s homicide rate jumped 31 percent—the largest single year increase since 2005, when homicides increased almost 39 percent. 

Optimists note that the 91 homicides committed in 2010 are still much lower that the all-time record of 168 in 1991, the year that Jeffrey Dahmer’s murderous rampage was uncovered.   

“We understand that the dynamics and motivation of some forms of homicide are susceptible to police tactics and some are not,” Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.  “We need to find out which are and which aren’t.”

Flynn blames the significant spike in homicides to multiple-victim cases. 

http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/112736814.html

Pessimists, however, believe that cuts to the overtime budget and changes in the detective bureau are beginning to hamper the MPD’s ability to clear violent crimes, which means offenders remain at large to victimize others. 

No doubt, journalists and politicians will likely scrutinize the MPD’s 2010 clearance rate for homicides and other serious offenses.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jesse Garza—a reporter in-charge of a homicide related blog—notes that a database maintained by that newspaper suggests 40 of Milwaukee’s homicides from 2010 remain unsolved—a clearance rate of just 56 percent.

http://www.jsonline.com/news/crime/112734664.html

With discourse concerning local crime numbers looming, it is imperative to juxtapose Milwaukee’s homicide statistics with other cities.

Unofficial numbers show Chicago homicides fell almost 3.5 percent from 2009 to 447.

http://homicides.redeyechicago.com/

In 2010, however, Chicago’s per capita homicide rate was slightly higher than Milwaukee’s.

News accounts from the west coast suggest Los Angeles is set to record fewer than 300 homicides “for the first time in four decades.”

http://www.newspressnow.com/localnews/26055023/detail.html

If Los Angeles, a city of almost 3.9 million, had the same homicide rate as Milwaukee in 2010, the city of angles would have experienced 591 homicides.

In 2010, Philadelphia, a tough town with a reputation for violence, recorded 305 homicides. 

http://www.centredaily.com/2010/12/30/2425495/philadelphia-violent-crime-fell.html

With a population of almost 1.5 million, Philadelphia would have registered 85 fewer homicides if that city experienced the same per capita murder rate as Milwaukee.

These numbers suggest that Milwaukee’s per capita homicide rate is relatively high. More alarming, however, is the clearance rate, even though official numbers, as well as the methods used to ascertain these statistics, have yet to be reported.

No doubt, with 91 victims of homicide, Milwaukee is in need of a lead abatement program. If Los Angeles, home of the Bloods, the Crips, and Sur 13, can reduce its homicide rates to unprecedented levels, one would think a city of 600,000 could do the same.

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Steve Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders.

Checkout Steve Spingola’s seminar, The Psychology of Homicide, by visiting http://badgerwordsmith.com/the_psychology_of_homicide_presentation.html

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011