Posts tagged “Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Zoloft Needed for Newspaper’s Obsession with Walker

If questions concerning the biases of the union reporters and the editors at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel still remain, the newspaper’s over-the-top coverage of Gov. Scott Walker certainly has put those doubts to rest. Never, in the history of this state, has a newspaper assembled at 333 W. State Street been as obsessed with a politician as the Milwaukee Journal Democrat is with Walker.

Quite frankly, since journalists at the newspaper wrap themselves in the myth of objectivity, it is time for these so-called professionals to fully disclose their union ties. For obvious ethical reasons, absent full disclosure, reporters that are members of labor unions should be prohibited from covering the governor.

Moreover, absent full disclosure or a reporter/editor’s recusal, a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel-wide prescription of Zoloft for WDS (Walker Derangement Syndrome) is in order. Over the course of the past month, there has been very little difference between the content of the JS and a Democratic Party newsletter.

If current trends persist, the Milwaukee Journal Democrat, which has split from its former broadcasting company, will continue its slide into the subscription-less abyss. In the next five years, the possibility exists that the JS will become such a drain on its parent company’s resources that it will be sold-off or purchased for a charm during bankruptcy protection. Targeting candidates that disagree with the politics of their union reporters and editors will certainly cause the majority of the state’s voters to look elsewhere for anything that resembles objective news coverage.

Advertisers, take note.
Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest 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.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2015

JS Editorial a Finger in the Eye of Rank-and-File Coppers

Last Thursday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board stuck a finger in the eye of Milwaukee’s rank-and-file police officers by endorsing Police Chief Ed Flynn’s termination of Officer Christopher Manney.  The one-sided editorial did little but regurgitate the company line offered by Flynn.

The arrogance of the JS Editorial Board is evident for all to see. Why is it that those who penned the editorial did not reach out to critics of Flynn’s decision and obtain their input? The likely answer is that the cop haters on the editorial board, so willing to carry water for Flynn and the political hacks at City Hall, were well aware that the response to the police chief’s decision would be universal condemnation.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I have yet to speak to a seasoned law enforcement veteran who, after reading the reports of Officer Manney’s contact with Dondre Hamilton, viewed Manney’s actions as inappropriate. Sure, there are a handful of bootlickers on the seventh floor of the Police Administration Building that will jump when Chief Flynn snaps his fingers, but real cops — those who work the streets and put their lives on the line — know that Chief Flynn and the JS Editorial Board are more interested in politics than making Milwaukee a safer place to live and work.

What is clear is that the newspaper’s editorial cabal have absolutely no police experience. If they had, they would care more about the safety of Milwaukee’s police officers than placating interest groups.  And, quite frankly, it is easy for white collar journalists to sit in their ivory tower on West State Street and pontificate about how cops should do their jobs, even though these same editorial writers probably lack the intestinal fortitude to police the streets of Milwaukee.

From this point forward, I would encourage Milwaukee police officers to set aside the October 16, 2014, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial supporting the termination of an officer for simply doing his job.  The rank-and-file needs to understand that they are under attack.  To paraphrase Chinese military strategist Sun Tzu: know your enemies, know yourself; one-hundred battles, one-hundred victories.

The firing of Officer Manney is so bizarre that it rivals the fictional plot to undermined rank-and-file Milwaukee police officers in The Cozen Protocol. Unfortunately, in the hallways of the seventh floor, fiction is now becoming a sad reality.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest 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, 2014

Answers for the JS Editorial Board on Gun Violence

After the Memorial Day violence carries over into to the summer months, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board, as well as the newspaper’s usual suspects, typically pontificates about gun violence while offering few, if any, solutions to the problem.

Yesterday, the newspaper, again, gave its opinion, but offered only questions not solutions. Since the newspaper does not have a clue, I will answer their questions for them.

What will it take to get the message through to some that guns aren’t the way to solve disputes?

Long, long prison terms, including jail time — not probation — for every weapons offense. The newspaper does a disservice to the community by talking out of both sides of its mouth.  On one hand, they ask the aforementioned question; then, on the other, the newspaper puts forth James Causey and Eugene Kane to whine about black incarceration rates.  Causey went so far as to question the lengthy prison terms given to two men involved in the shooting of a Milwaukee police officer.

Why are some so eager to reach for their guns?

Because some people are simply thugs, think like thugs, and their anti-social behavior trumps the quality-of-life of the others in their neighborhoods.  Milwaukee does not need gun control; Milwaukee does need THUG control.  There are thousands of guns within five-square miles of where I live, but, in the past five years, no one has been shot.  If someone in my neighborhood flashed a gun, the local police would be flooded with 911 calls.  Calling the police and cooperating with investigators equates to putting up a “Thug Free Zone” sign.  If the criminal element is aware that they cannot intimate the populous and get away with crimes, they will move to another area where individuals are willing to turn a blind-eye to anti-social conduct.

Looking to explain gun violence, Mr. Causey and Mr. Kane often note that poverty is the root cause of gun violence.  I disagree.  There are many poor areas in rural Wisconsin where a plethora of guns and drugs —methamphetamine, cocaine, heroin, and marijuana — are present.  In these areas, however, there is very little gun violence.

Gun violence is unique to some areas of Milwaukee because of the city’s vibrant, open-air drug trade.  Operating a drug racket in a high area of prostitution is akin to having a license to print money.  After prostitutes turn a trick, they scamper to the local drug house to get their next fix.  Prostitutes also attract plenty of customers who also willing to buy drugs anonymously in these open-air markets.  Whatever criminal organization controls the turf containing these drug markets stands to make thousands of dollars of profit each and every day.  The competition for this turf is intense. Some of these criminal organizations actually refer to themselves as “nations,” and, like sovereign countries, use weapons to defend their territory or to conquer rivals.

To understand the thug culture one must also understand basic economics, typically a tough subject for liberals, who tend to think emotionally instead of rationally.  If city leaders want to reduce gun violence, they have three choices:

First, increase the opportunity costs for criminal drug gangs. This means draconian prison sentences — fifteen-year minimums for any type of drug trafficking offense and 25-year minimums for any type of crime involving a firearm.  I doubt the JS Editorial Board has the stomach for this approach, even though it would make a substantial difference.

Second, Wisconsin lawmakers could reduce and/or element the need for customers to patronize the turf controlled by criminal drug gangs.  This would require drug legalization of some sort and would result in other societal costs.  This type of legalization would likely result in more persons experimenting with hard drugs once the social stigma is removed.

As things stand politically, I do not see the JS Editorial Board, Mr. Causey, and liberals supporting the first option. Moreover, I doubt that the state legislature will support the latter approach.

There is, however, a viable third option, although it would require community buy-in, a chief-of-police willing to advocate for more boots on the ground and less Big Brother surveillance, and a mayor interested in doing more than conducting photo ops with the police chief.  This avenue calls for a well-run, decentralized area saturation patrol strategy (ASP), coupled with a strong, well-funded detective bureau.  Retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis has written an easy to read book about this topic.  With shipping, the cost is about $15.

Frankovis’ book should be mandatory reading for the JS Editorial Board and for Mr. Causey.  The brilliance of the ASP strategy is its laser-like approach based on intelligence gathered from the community.  ASP is also cost effective.  At Districts Five and Three, Captain Frankovis implemented this strategy absent the usual bureaucratic complaints of inadequate staffing.

Why is it so easy for the wrong people to end up with guns in their hands?

We live in a free society and, unless substantial penalties for transferring firearms to prohibited persons actually occur, guns will fall into the hands of bad people.  After all, drugs are illegal, and yet controlled substances manage to find their way to Milwaukee after being harvested, manufactured, and packaged in South America and parts of Asia.

Personally, I would pass and then strictly enforce statutes in Wisconsin that mimic federal laws on firearms.  This means a 15-year minimum for a second firearms offense and a 25-year to life minimum for a third firearms related offense.  Without this type of tough sentencing, the JS Editorial Board’s discussion of the matter amounts to little more than bloviating.  These types of sentences will significantly impact the black community, which will cause the usual suspects — those who complain about gun violence, but, in reality, besides midnight basketball, offer no solutions — carping about prison sentences handed out to the thug element.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest 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, 2014


Milwaukee’s Failed Rip Van Winkle Leadership

Sometimes, an answer to a difficult question that seems so elusive is in plain sight for all to see.

Such is the case with the recent outrage over the annual eruption of violence in Milwaukee as the weather warms.

Seemingly each year, the reporters and the editorial writers at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel believe the shooting of a young child, the needless murder of a homeless man, or a large turnout at a candlelight vigil, is the so-called tipping-point on crime.  In this scenario, the residents of Milwaukee’s central city or the “hood,” as the area was recently dubbed by the Journal Sentinel, awake from their Rip Van Winkle-type slumber to forge a new reality — that the conduct of the criminal element will no longer be tolerated.

And, each year, it takes all of two weeks to debunk the Journal Sentinel’s theory, as bodies, sadly, begin filling the freezers of Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s office.

Instead of looking to Chief Flynn and his overpriced east coast consultants for answers, the proponents of the futile Rip Van Winkle theory on Milwaukee’s inner-city violence could find solutions at for $10.67, a price substantially more affordable than Chief Flynn’s cabal of advisors.

In February, retired Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) Captain Glenn Frankovis released a new book, Area Saturation Patrol: A Policing Strategy That Works, which spotlights the successful strategy used to suppress crime in MPD Districts Two, Three and Five.

At the request of Glenn’s publisher, I penned the following:

“During the summer of 2001, Milwaukee’s Metcalfe Park neighborhood was a virtual war zone.  Fox News 6 reporter Mara MacDonald’s investigation dubbed this troubled area a killing field.  In an effort to prevent more bloodshed, Police Chief Arthur Jones called on Captain Glenn Frankovis.

“Glenn had previously served as the Commanding Officer at District Five, where he implemented an Area Saturation Patrol (ASP) strategy that worked wonders.  In 2002, overall major crime in District Five declined 8.1 percent, shootings plummeted 42.8 percent, and the number of homicides decreased 48.6 percent.  Within 18 months, the near north side policing sectors under Frankovis’ command had witnessed the largest one-year decline in per capita homicides in urban America.

“But could the man with the plan, and his hard-charging foot soldiers, put a lid on the on violence in Milwaukee’s killing field?  After all, Metcalfe Park was surrounded by other neighborhoods teetering on the brink.  Instead of making excuses, requesting a huge influx of new officers, or whining about budgets, Glenn Frankovis met the challenge head-on. In his first full-year at District Three, the commander’s ASP strategy and no-nonsense policing style resulted in 15.5 percent reduction in violent crime, including a 21.7 percent reduction in robberies.”

With such a track record of success, one would think the editorial writers at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the staffs of local television news outlets, and the political-class at city hall, might take notice of Frankovis’ crime fighting strategy.  But alas, the sound of crickets and excuse making are the only concepts being promulgated by the proponents of the Rip Van Winkle theory.

So, each year, as you read the articles in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel regarding the very tragic loss of human life, consider the source.  Then, take notice that the newspaper’s editorial board and city leaders seem more concerned with political correctness than fighting crime.  And, as time passes, the public can count on one thing: that editorial board and political pontificators will continue to put their collective heads in the sand while waiting—for eternity—for the elusive inner-city Rip Van Winkle to be jostled from his slumber.

After all, a real leader, like Glenn Frankovis, does not need a catalyst or expensive consultants to get the job done.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest 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, 2014

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

‘If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Buy ‘Em: Free Enterprise and the Media

Earlier this week, I was contacted by a person with some financial clout.  Like the 49 percent (those who voted against re-electing President Obama) he was extremely disappointed with the election’s outcome.  To his credit, however, instead of griping about the ‘economic illiterates’ that voted for high unemployment and $6 trillion in new federal debt, this individual is actively encouraging  those who advocate for limited government and the free enterprise system to put their money where they mouths are.  Instead of donating billions of dollars to Super Pac organizations, he argues, those who still believe in our nation’s founding principles need to use their savvy investment skills to purchase media outlets, especially newspapers, and turn them around by creating a product the makers, not the takers, might actually read.

The “maker-class,” as he describes it, consists of able-bodied Americans willing to pull their own weight free of government subsidies, such as food stamps, SSI, heat assistance, rent assistance, and free cellular telephones.  For the first time in our nation’s history, he believes, last week’s election made one thing clear: the mainstream media is in the tank for the Democrat Party, as the press has given a free pass to President Obama on several debacles.

During Operation Fast and Furious, ATF agents made high-powered firearms available to Mexican drug cartels. When one of the guns was later used to kill a U.S. Border Patrol agent, the scandal broke and the president simply claimed he was unaware of the operation.

The mainstream press, including the New York Times and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, simply swept any significant coverage of the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya under the rug until after the election.  With drones sending real time video to the White House situation room, the administration’s national security team watched as an Al-Qaeda affiliated organization attacked the consulate with rocket propelled grenades, started the building on fire, and dragged the U.S. ambassador through the streets.  Those in the White House stood idle as four Americans died.  Once again, President Obama claimed to have little real-time knowledge of the event, but then, for over the course of the next two weeks, claimed the attack was a spontaneous demonstration sparked by a YouTube video, even though his own CIA director alleges, that within 24 hours, the government was fully aware that a terrorist organization perpetrated the murders.

Last week, after CIA Director David Patraeus resigned due to an extra-marital affair, the Wall Street Journal reported that the FBI uncovered the affair in May, but the administration permitted Patraeus to stay on the job until after the election. Once again, President Obama claims he had no knowledge of the matter, even though Patraeus’ mistress was alleged to have classified documents in her possession.

Obviously, there is a pattern here, but those in the mainstream media, still feeling the tingling running-down their legs, are once again giving the President the benefit of the doubt.  Just look at all the softball questions lobbed to Obama at last week’s so-called press conference.

In the interim, the federal deficit just for the month of October was up 22 percent; Boeing is slated to lay-off 25 percent of its management team; Hostess has laid-off 18,000 employees; and GE Medical, with a sizeable presence in Pewaukee, will let 125 highly-paid employees go at the end of the year.  With third quarter corporate profits flat or on the decline, the stock market—an indicator of what the economy will look like six months to a year down the road—is down almost four percent since Election Day.  To make matters worse, some respected analysts, such as Marc Faber, predict a 20 percent decrease in overall stock values will soon occur.

Yet a lead story in the November 17, 2012, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (JS) is that one major reason Americans voted to reelect the President was the overall performance of the economy—not the checks or the subsidies that the “taker-class” receives. This JS article illustrates how out-of-touch the media and many consumers of the mainstream press are about economics, finances, and the state-of-the nation.  In a sense, though, a lack of financial acumen by such a large percentage of the American populace should not come as a surprise, since a recent survey, conducted by, indicates that over 45 percent of American adults have less than $500 in total savings.

So, what would it take for the “maker-class” to procure a piece of Wisconsin’s mainstream press? The crew at SF spent the better part of a week crunching the data.  The research team discovered that just two newspapers dominate the southeastern and northwestern portions of the state: the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the privately-held Eau Claire Reader-Telegram.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is owned by the publicly traded Journal Broadcast Group (Stock symbol: JRN), which operates 35 radio stations and 14 television stations in 12 states, but only one major newspaper—the one component that is bleeding the group dry.  To date, the desks’ of reporters at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel are growing increasingly fewer with another round of employee buyouts.  Moreover, the local news section is so lean that reports of homicides receive just a paragraph of coverage. The what, how, and why questions—standard fodder to note when writing an article—are rarely answered, unless it is explained by a government bureaucrat.

But the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is bound to fail because its business model is extremely flawed.  The paper seems intent on targeting city dwellers—the so-called ‘urban demographic’ of younger, supposedly upwardly mobile-types, as well as inner-city readers. The problem is that those under 30-years-of-age rarely read newspapers. They get their information from social networking sites or Web sites operated by People or US magazines. This is precisely why the Obama campaign dispatched the president to cable network shows and radio stations that target younger voters.  Moreover, one-out-of- three of the JS’s other target audience, inner-city residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, have incomes below the poverty line, making it difficult to attract substantial advertisers.

The JS’s other mistake is giving much of its content away for free at its Web site, Simply displaying a headline and then charging per-article or offering the alternative of an annual subscription would raise revenue.  That being said the only way the JS will become profitable is targeting an audience that is interested in its content and has the resources to purchase its advertisers’ products. Hence, targeting suburban readers, focusing on matters of finance, and establishing an editorial page that champions free enterprise and constitutionally limited government, are the keys to success.

Looking at the numbers, SF believes, that sometime in the near future, the Journal Broadcast Group will quietly shop its newspaper operation.  Eventually, shareholders will demand that the company do so.  With the stock market set to tank, SF predicts that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel could be had for a charm within the next five years.

So how long will it be before Wisconsin’s version of Rupert Murdoch opens his or her check, purchases the JS, and then uses their business and marketing skills to make the operation profitable? Only time will tell.


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




Lapdogs: the Media and the Surveillance State

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 

One Woman’s Willingness to Stand-Up to Orwellian ID Act

To view this article, please checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, available exclusively at in December of 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

Ringing in the New Year: Murder, the Fish Wrapper, and a New Book

If city homicides continue at their current rate, Milwaukee will witness 365 slayings in 2012. Experiencing five murders in as many days is, of course, purely coincidental, although it seems the stars are aligning at an awkward time. In just a few hours, Police Chief Edward Flynn is set to take the oath of office for a second term, a day after an assistant chief retired under a shroud of secrecy.

But this isn’t the first time Milwaukee began the New Year with a bang. Twenty-one years ago, three people were murdered in the early hours of January 1—two at a tavern on S. 15 and W. Mitchell Streets.  As the following link illustrates, the clatter of gunfire ushering in the New Year is a tradition, of sorts, in some Milwaukee neighborhoods.

To avoid being hit by falling lead, some officers make it a point to have a roof over their heads during the first 15 minutes of the year. Things get real ugly in the ensuing hours as drunkenness sometimes results in a run-of-the-mill argument ending with a body or two being scrapped from the pavement.

Adding to the disproportate increase in January homicides is the unseasonably warm weather. Once the frigid cold returns—and it will—armed gang members with a grudge will hunker down inside their heated drug houses. Data driven policing be damned, experience dictates that the next rash of back-to-back homicides will probably occur during the first warm days of early spring.


Seasoned detectives of yore often referred to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and its predecessor, the Milwaukee Journal, as ‘the fish wrapper.’ Obviously, these old school sleuths didn’t think too highly of the crew at 333 W. State Street (although the old Milwaukee Sentinel received higher marks).

Yet I wasn’t surprised to hear that the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel—better known these days as—is now charging a fee to view its Web site content. As any sound business model suggests, a company giving away its products for free will soon be out of business.

As of this morning, however, the newspaper’s home page, containing a wide variety of information—such as the popular “News Watch” section—is still accessible at no cost.

Here is some free advice for the brass at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: if you actually want people to pay for the content of your newspaper, lock down your Web site.  Do not surrender a single morsel of information unless readers pay for the content. Otherwise, tight-fisted persons, like me, will not fork over $2.35 month. Why? Residents of southeastern Wisconsin are very frugal (i.e. we’re cheap).

On the other hand, if the JS would increase the size of its staff and actually unearth some news of local import, many of us might be willing to pay $5 a month. Over the past ten years, the corruption scandals involving members of the city’s common council, Ald. Michael McGee Jr.’s shakedown of businesses in his district, and public employees using government computers to advocate on behalf of politicians, have pretty much flown under the newspaper’s radar screen.  Instead, the newspaper has three reporters investigating one of the few public institutions that actually performs reasonably well—the Milwaukee Police Department.


Recently, some readers have asked about a number of previous posts currently unavailable at SF.  To view these outstanding articles, readers will need to purchase Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I, a Kindle only e-book debuting later this month. I personally selected top-notch pieces, like “Max [Adonnis] & the Mob” and “Serial Killer in Plain Sight for All to See,” for publication. The cost of this new book is just $3 and will be available exclusively at

The proceeds from of Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I help fund this Web site’s overall operations.


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

Local News Outlets Should Look to Our Neighbors from the North

With the ranks of reporters and the level of local news coverage at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel shrinking, the activities of organized crime outfits in Milwaukee remains dramatically under reported.  One would think that local television assignment editors—witnessing the void in detailed crime related coverage—would seize the opportunity to fill in the gaps left by declining newspaper revenues. Instead, local newscasts bombard viewers of southeastern Wisconsin with over-the-top weather coverage and investigations pertaining to restaurant cleanliness.

“The only way for a violent gang war to get noticed in the Milwaukee news media,” a retired police supervisor wrote, tongue-in-cheek, in a recent e-mail, “is to have the gangs’ members host a barbeque with dirty utensils.”

If television news in the Milwaukee area is interested in getting it right, they should take a few tips from the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. 

Plagued by a rash of recent bad news, Vancouver, British Columbia, is now in the midst of a violent gang war.  The leader of the Red Scorpions street gang, 30-year-old Jonathan Bacon, was gunned-down Sunday while riding in an SUV with a member of the Hells Angels. The shots were fired from outside the SUV and investigators still are unsure whom, specifically, the intended target was.

To get an idea of what solid, local television news looks like, please visit the below link and watch the video.

Unfortunately, hard hitting local television news is tough to come by these days, as ratings books seem to validate what is newsworthy and what is not.  As difficult as it is to believe, some viewers remain glued to their television sets as reporters stand in the white death that falls from the sky each winter.

While it is comforting to know that the residents of Vancouver are getting the low-down on what is actually transpiring in their community, residents of the metro Milwaukee area are updated with only a paragraph or two about a handful of nightly shootings in the newspaper. 

Editors: besides the WHERE, it might also be helpful to further inform readers about the who, what, when, why, and how.  Readers understand that news budgets are tight, but Journalism 101 mandates sufficient answers to the remaining five questions. 

Follow-up: another detailed story pertaining to this gang related shooting.


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

To learn more, visit

© Steve 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

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

Newspapers’ Championing of Causes Leaves Readers in the Lurch

In today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, reporter John Diedrich’s story Felons’ Helpful Kin Get a Pass continues down the newspaper’s path of trumpeting specific issues in the hopes of winning journalistic awards. This hunt for professional accolades, however, leaves readers with the impression that a proposed new state law will only affect hardcore felons.

In all actuality, nothing could be further from the truth.

While most citizens of Wisconsin want to see those assisting murderers, robbers, and rapists by concealing or destroying evidence held accountable, the article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel fails to explain how this new law could unknowingly ensnarl family members for relatively minor offenses.

Here is one hypothetical example.

Two fictional parents, John and Betty Smith, residing in southeastern Wisconsin, take a four-day trip to Door County.  The Smiths leave behind their 17-year-old son, Matthew, to work a weekend part-time job.

When John Smith returns on Monday night, he goes into the basement to refill the water softener.  Behind a washbasin, John Smith observes an empty quart bottle of vodka; however, the rest of the basement looks in order. 

Now, John Smith was once a teenager, too.  He realizes that his son, Matthew, may have had some friends over and that underage drinking may have taken place in his basement. John confronts Matthew, who, of course, denies he knows anything about the vodka bottle. Realizing he will likely never get to the bottom of the matter, John Smith tosses the empty bottle of vodka in the garbage.

The garbage crew then stops by on Tuesday morning and picks-up the weekly trash.

On Tuesday night, a police officer knocks on John Smith’s door. The officer informs Mr. Smith that a parent of a 16-year-old girl called to complain that their daughter came home intoxicated after allegedly drinking at the Smith residence on Saturday night.  The officer asks Mr. Smith if he was aware that a possible party took place at his residence over the past weekend and that alcohol was involved.

Like 95 percent of most Americans, Mr. Smith has very little knowledge of the law and/or the criminal justice system. As such, Mr. Smith tells the officer that he and his wife were out of town for the weekend, but, when he returned last night, he did find an empty bottle of vodka in the basement.  Mr. Smith further tells the officer that he believed his son, who is 17, might have had some friends over to partake in drink. 

The officer then asks Mr. Smith what he did with the bottle of vodka.  Smith explains that, after confronting his son, who denied any wrongdoing, he tossed the bottle in the garbage.

The officer then explains to Mr. Smith that he destroyed evidence of a crime. Mr. Smith is then arrested and charged by the DA’s office.

Under the aforementioned law proposed in the legislature, and championed by a reporter from the newspaper, this scenario is not a reach. 

Of course, readers of the newspaper are left with the impression that this new law will only target felons.  And why wouldn’t they?  After all, Mr. Diedrich’s article fails to explain the intricacies of the proposed law.

Unfortunately, this is what occurs when journalists attempt to make news instead of simply reporting the news.  Which is why the old adage, ‘Don’t believe everything you read,’ retains its relevance.


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

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.


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

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

City’s Violent Night Highlights Print Media’s Decline

Over the past two years, the city of Milwaukee’s homicide rate has seen a significant decline.  One can argue the reasons: the shrinking 14 to 24 year-old demographic age group, the stellar performance of paramedics, the professionalism of the Froedtert Hospital ER staff, and/or Chief Edward Flynn’s data driven enforcement.  In 2010, however, perpetrators have apparently taken better aim, as the number of Milwaukee homicides has already exceeded all of 2009. 

Without a doubt, violence is on the uptick.  Early Friday morning, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that two people were killed and another shot during separate robberies on the city’s near north side. 

But even a better indication that Milwaukeeans, in general, have become accustom to the violence is the manner in which the dead tree version of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel covered the investigations. 

 On Saturday morning, the newspaper simply printed a small inch-and-a-half article entitled “Two Killed, One Injured in Overnight Shootings,” which provided minimal detail about Milwaukee’s violent night.

Many moons ago, as a rookie officer, I vividly recall the Milwaukee Journal and the Milwaukee Sentinel vigorously exploring serious crimes.  Reporters frequently sought background information about the victims by interviewing neighbors and family members.  Frequently, the newspapers followed-up and reported about ongoing investigations and kept the community appraised.

Granted, the dramatic decline of print journalism is part of the problem. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is a shell of its former self.  Budget cuts showed many experienced reporters the door and have resulted in a local page devoid of thorough coverage.  With advertising revenues in the doldrums, those in the newspaper industry are left clinging to their once busy printing presses by their ink-stained fingernails. 

Undoubtedly, some will argue that other forms of information—blogs and Internet news outlets—fill-in some of the remaining gaps.  Yet the inevitable collapse of the Fourth Estate, as we know it, will leave the next generation with a reduced ability to conduct research and understand the dynamics of Milwaukee’s past. Just as importantly, those who currently operate institutions—private and public—around town clearly realize there are fewer eyes watching. The county pension scandal, the Open Sky radio debacle, the $1.3 billion failure that is the Milwaukee Public Schools, and the ever growing list of sewage dumping, depict the ebb of the influence of print journalism in Milwaukee.

And the media is partly to blame, as well.  To boost sales, they sensationalize the news instead of simply conducting solid reporting, although one would think that adequate, in-depth coverage of Milwaukee’s violent night would cause more readers to pick-up a few more copies.


Steven 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. 

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI 2010