Posts tagged “Milwaukee Police Department

Spingola Files’ Best True Crime Books of 2016

Today, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel book editor Jim Higgins released his list of the best books of 2016. If reading a Chinese novelist’s sci-fi trilogy is not something you would particularly enjoy, checkout this list of the best true crime books of 2016:

#1 Badge 387: The Story of Jim Simone, America’s Most Decorated Cop

This book completely debunks the Black Lives Matter cop-hating narrative. Badge 387 is an outstanding read and would make a great gift for any person considering a career in law enforcement.…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

#2 Rogue Heroes: The History of the SAS, Britain’s Secret Special Forces Unit That Sabotaged the Nazis and Changed the Nature of War…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

This is a compelling story of a British SAS unit during World War II. These elite troops were dropped behind enemy lines in Africa to fight Hitler’s troops.

#3 You Gotta Be Dirty: The Outlaws Motorcycle Club In & Around Wisconsin.

An excellent book about a motorcycle gang that terrorized rival bikers, everyday residents, and even the police in Milwaukee. For those familiar with Milwaukee and Wisconsin, many of the names and places will certainly ring bell.…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

#4 Wolf Boys

The story of two American teens recruited as assassins for a Mexican gang. The book focuses on the dogged determination of a Mexican-American detective and his frustration with corruption.…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

#5 The Reporter Who Knew too Much: The Mysterious Death of What’s My Line TV Star and Media Icon Dorothy Kilgallen

Released just four days ago, this is one to put on your holiday wish list. This story of Dorothy Kilgallen, a New York Post reporter who died of a suspicious drug overdose. Kilgallen was one of the few reporters who feverishly probed the Kennedy assassination. Some believe that her inquiry of the assassination led to her demise.…/…/ref=sr_1_1…

Murder in Milwaukee

Steve Spingola published this article at Right Wisconsin. To see the content, please use this link:

Steve Spingola is a retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide lieutenant, an author, and an investigator for TNT’s Cold Justice.

Latest Milwaukee PD Stats Show Crime is UP

For those in the media who apparently do not believe that Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn’s failed policies have come home to roost, the numbers do not lie.

Here is a very recent tally of the City of Milwaukee’s crime stats:

Homicides: 2014 = 17; 2015 = 46, for a 171% increase to date.

As of April 21, 2015, the homicide clearance rates:



2015 (to date)………….48%

Note: when I served in the MPD’s homicide unit in the 1990s, the homicide clearance rate was typically in the low 80 percentile.

Aggravated Assault Firearm: 2014 = 442; 2015 = 608, a 38% increase to date.

Armed (Gun) Robbery: 2014 = 507; 2015 = 563, a 11% increase to date.

Non-fatal shootings: 2014 = 96; 2015 = 127, for a 32% increase to date.

Aggravated assault (non-gun): 2014 = 1139; 2015 = 1267, a 11% increase to date.

Robbery: 2014 = 830; 2015 = 939, a 13% increase to date.

Auto Theft: 2014 = 1462; 2015 = 1724, a 18% increase to date.

Forcible rape: 2014 = 59; 2015 = 44, a 25% decrease to date.

Priority One calls for service: 2014 = 14976; 2015 = 17666, a 18% increase to date.

In addition to the MPD’s restrictive non-pursuit policy, officers are being encouraged to give warnings rather than issuing citations or affecting arrests, which MPD insiders believe is being done to manipulate statistics. Each “stop” constitutes a “dot” on Compstat maps that represents police activity.
Steve Spingola is an author, retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective, and a contributor to TNT’s Cold Justice.
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

#BeAFarce Turning the Milwaukee PD into a Laughing Stock

On Thursday, the Milwaukee Police Department’s Chief-of-Police, Ed Flynn, held a news conference to discuss the wave of violence that has shaken even the city’s typically complicit media. In the immediate aftermath of the chickens of the chief’s failed policies coming home to roost, Flynn pulled an Obama by taking no responsibility for anything while blaming others.

With the vast majority of the Milwaukee media willing to regurgitate and disseminate Flynn’s tripe, the chief-of-police knows, for the most part, that the gaggle of reporters — ninety percent of whom are liberals that scoff at the Second Amendment — will give the chief a pass while gleefully airing his anti-gun sound bites.

While responding to the usual softball question from reporter Myra Sanchick, who had solicited Flynn’s “reaction to the situation playing out of four people dead,” the police chief blamed a subculture of violence. Certainly, Flynn’s response was disingenuous. Over the course of the last four decades, a subculture of violence has permeated certain sections of the city, which led to the next reporter’s Captain Obvious question:

“Chief [Flynn], any theories as to how that’s changed from last year [when Milwaukee had 19 homicides on April 16, as opposed to the 115% increase in the 2015 murders to date]? What’s going on this year?”

Flynn sighed, noted “an interlocking set of challenges,” and then went on a diatribe about having a rational “discussion of firearms without awaking the sleeping beast of the Second Amendment defenders who have, you know, never met a gun law they liked.”

In the next breath, Flynn did what left-of-center politicos do when their failed policies are exposed — he blamed Milwaukee talk-show hosts. “If we could all turn off our AM radio stations for a couple of days, and engage in rational discourse, about what it takes to effect the thinking of career criminals carrying firearms, we might make some progress.”

Clearly, Flynn is desperately grasping for whatever straws he can to prop-up his crumbling administration. The man involved in the homicides that the chief-of-police is referring to, Ricky Ricardo Chiles III, was a convicted felon with a lengthy rap sheet. Chiles was on parole for bank robbery and, according to news reports in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, was “…sentenced to far less than the maximum penalty of 10 years after the judge was told about his cooperation [with the Milwaukee Police Department] in an unrelated homicide case.”

In essence, Flynn’s police department, in an effort to secure Chiles’ cooperation, sought to secure a lesser sentence for the bank robber to nab a homicide suspect. While this set of circumstances is certainly not unusual, the chief-of-police seems to want it both ways. On one hand, Flynn blames Gov. Walker and the legislature for gun laws that, in the chief’s opinion, are not tough enough. On the other hand, his own department — in conjunction with the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office — obtained a get out of jail early card for Chiles.

From my experience in the field, Wisconsin’s gun laws are not the problem. Wisconsin State Statute 941.29 prohibits felons from possessing firearms, while subsection four makes it a felony crime to knowingly furnish a firearm to a felon. Chief Flynn’s straw man argument that the city is awash with guns, and more gun laws would prohibit firearms from falling into the hands of felons, is a red herring used to cover over his own flawed policies.

For example, during this same news conference, Chief Flynn argued some of the 2015 Milwaukee homicides have occurred because of drug violence. The simple possession of narcotics is a crime and each individual illicit drug sale is a felony. Yet few, if any, law enforcement officials would seriously argue that the prohibition of illegal narcotics has prevented users from obtaining their desired commodity.

To answer the reporter’s question to Flynn, which the chief-of-police conveniently ducked, what has changed in Milwaukee is that criminals now believe that the Milwaukee Police Department is a paper tiger. By throwing Officer Christopher Manney under the bus to appease the grievance community, and by implementing policies, such prohibiting the vast majority of vehicle pursuits, the MPD has become the laughing stock of the city’s hoodlums.

A few days ago, this report was typed into the Milwaukee Police Department’s Computer Assisted Dispatch system: “Just occurring…Stolen auto taunting sqd. that can’t pursue. Driving back n forth beeping at the sqd. Same stolen auto tried to ram same officers/sqd yesterday.”

Based on the reports from officers in the field, such as the one above, I have created a new hashtag at Twitter, #BeAFarce, a spoof of Flynn’s MPD motto, “Be a force.”

A few days ago, a supporter of Mayor Barrett’s asked what I would do differently than Flynn, at which time I provided this eight-point response:

• Establish well-organized, well-supervised, and decentralized ASP (Area Specific Policing) units in each district
• Besides ten analysts, gut the Orwellian fusion center and form a narco-gang intel unit, and, then, coordinate with the district ASP units
• Hire 200 officers and adequately staff police districts
• Revitalize and adequately staff the MPD’s once nationally renowned detective bureau by permitting homicide detectives to purse killers, even if overtime is required
• Back-up the officers on the street — those who follow the edicts of the Constitution — instead of throwing them under the bus
• Reorganize IAD by ridding the unit of those who simply say ‘yes’ to the brass instead of conducting independent investigations
• Require each district captain to reach out to community organizations and law-abiding residents of neighborhoods to reestablish a certain trust diminished by the MPD’s abhorrent response times
• Appoint a chief-of-police more concerned with crime suppression than formulating a thesis for a PhD dissertation.

Moreover, the Milwaukee Police Department’s administration is top-heavy and needs reorganization, which should be conducted by a leader who actually lived in Milwaukee, and has an institutional knowledge of the city and its police department.

In interim, Milwaukee is stuck with Chief Flynn, who, unfortunately, since becoming entangled in an extramarital affair with a married reporter, has lost any semblance of independence from the city’s caretaker mayor.

Steve Spingola is an author, retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective, and a contributor to TNT’s Cold Justice. 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

How Can Ed Flynn Sleep at Night?

On Wednesday, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn terminated the employment of Police Officer Christopher Manney for conducting a frisk of Dondre Hamilton — a troubled man with psychological issues — in Red Arrow Park.

According to the Milwaukee Police Department’s Internal Affairs complaint:

During the April 30 incident, Hamilton resisted Officer Manney’s attempted pat down by putting “his arms down and a confrontation ensued.” Manney drew his baton and, after delivering a strike to Hamilton’s arm, Hamilton disarmed Manney and struck the officer in the neck with the baton. Fearing for his life, Officer Manney shot Hamilton numerous times.

Mr. Hamilton later passed away from injuries sustained in the shooting.

On September 23, 2014, Deputy Inspector Michael Brunson, the commanding officer of the Internal Affairs Division, alleged Manney “failed to adhere to policy when he failed to have a reasonable suspicion that Mr. Hamilton was armed with a weapon or posed a threat to him.” However, during a compelled interviewed with Internal Affairs, Manney told investigators that he observed “bulges” in Hamilton’s pockets.  In a response to the charges, Manney noted that Hamilton was lying down in a public park “in the path where the public walks” and that the officer “immediately suspected” that Hamilton “wasn’t in a normal state.”

Having over 30-years of law enforcement experience, I believe Manney followed the edicts of the courts during his contact and subsequent pat down of Dondre Hamilton. The burden of proof needed to conduct a frisk is a reasonable and articulable suspicion that a person MAY BE armed — an evaluation that is determined by the totality of the circumstances.  Bulges in the pockets of a seemingly unstable person in a public place could certainly lead a reasonable police officer to believe a person may be armed.  Moreover, I have yet to speak to a single officer — not a one — who believes Manney’s frisk of Hamilton was unjustified.

Consequently, Chief Flynn’s decision in this matter merits scrutiny. In situations such as the shooting death of Mr. Hamilton, rank-and-file police officers soon learn if their police chief is a dedicated law enforcement officer — a person who once toiled in the field and likely conducted dozens of frisks in a similar manner as Officer Manney — or a politician with a badge.  In this instance it is obvious that Flynn is a politician in a blue uniform.

So, I have a few questions for Chief Flynn:

Sir, how can you sleep at night knowing full well that you have thrown a police officer under the bus for simply doing his job?

Chief, do you actually believe that the rank-and-file officers of the MPD — the men and women who put their lives on the line policing troubled areas of Milwaukee — have any confidence in your leadership?

And how will your officer’s react knowing that you, sir, are willing to end their careers to appease City Hall political operatives, the press, and some disgruntled members of the public?

Chief Flynn, what incentive do the officers of your department now have to stop and question potentially armed and dangerous individuals, when, career wise, a better decision might be to drive right on by?

Chief Flynn, as a cop, you have lost your way. While I generally do not purport to speak for others, I feel confident in noting that your decision to fire Officer Manney for seeking to protect his person while performing a dangerous job is an embarrassment to those of us who have worn an MPD uniform.

Chief, with a 2014 homicide clearance rate of just 40 percent, and a per capita murder rate that rivals Chicago’s, maybe it is time to pack it in and call it a career.

Only the bootlickers on the seventh floor of the PAB or the Internal Affairs ‘yes men’ will bother to wave goodbye to Ed Flynn as he trots off to the east coast for a cushy consultant’s position.


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 2013 Per Capita Murder Rate Worse than Chicago’s

The 2013 Milwaukee homicide numbers are in and they continue to defy a national trend.  While the number of murders in many large cities (i.e., New York and Chicago) ebbed, Milwaukee’s increased by 15 percent.

Statistically, a person in Milwaukee was more likely to become a victim of homicide than an individual in Chicago (see the below chart).   In 2013, the number of homicides in the Windy City fell 17 percent.


City                           Population          Number of Homicides          Ratio

Milwaukee              598,916                  106                                        1:5650

Chicago                   2,714,856               413                                       1:6572


“A fatal shooting on New Year’s Eve and a couple of nonfatal shootings concluded a violent year in Milwaukee,” the first sentence of an article in today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes, “in which more people were killed by assailants than in any since 2005.”

A New Year’s Day article in the New York Times praised Chicago officials for implementing strategies that reduced the number of dead human bodies at the Cook County morgue.

Sources within the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) point, in part, to Chief Edward Flynn’s administrative strategy, which, they claim, is purposely designed to marginalize the MPD’s Criminal Investigation Bureau (informally known as the Detective Bureau).

“It’s tough to find highly qualified detectives to volunteer to work homicide,” said one high-ranking source.  “Many of the really good detectives have retired or, extremely frustrated, have found a place to lay low until he’s [Flynn] gone.  And those with initiative have their knees cut out from them towards the end of their respective shifts in order keep a lid on overtime.   In the interim, the department, until recently, hadn’t offered a promotional exam for the rank of detective in years.

“Here’s a question the media should ask: why is it that, even though the numbers of some categories of crimes have declined, clearances rates have not? If deterrence — the chance of getting caught — plays a role in the criminal mindset then failing to clear crimes empowers future criminality.”

In the late 1990s, Milwaukee had 300 detectives in its ranks.  Today, the source says, the number of detectives has fallen nearly 35 percent.  This is due, in part, to a shift in administrative philosophy, which now mandates that police officers sent to certain felonies, such as robberies and burglaries, conduct the primary investigation.  In many instances, some detectives claim that, by the time the follow-up reaches their desks, inexperienced officers have inadequately processed the scene or have failed to canvass the area for potential witnesses.

As 2014 unfolds, it will be interesting to see if city officials address the rising murder rate, as well as other issues impacting overall MPD morale.  Absent any pressure from the media, though, it is likely that the status quo will remain unchanged, even as the gang invested city in the corrupt state 90 miles to Milwaukee’s south somehow manages to get a grip on its murder rate.


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 in audiobook format 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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

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

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

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

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

DWD Strikes Again; an FBI Official’s Parchment Shredder; the Police and the Paranormal

Sadly and yet predictably, the body of 24-year-old Nick Wilcox—a Milwaukee resident last seen alive celebrating New Year’s at a pub on Old World Third Street—came to the surface of the Milwaukee River on Thursday.  Two Milwaukee police officers observed the young man’s body floating in the river adjacent to Pierre Marquette Park.

In my new book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & II, I spent a chapter, entitled “Leaving for College? Take Some Common Sense Along, too,” discussing the risks involved with binge drinking from the standpoint of personal protection. I understand that the last people a teenager or someone in their early 20s wants to listen to is their parents. As such, encourage your child to take the advice of a former homicide detective—one who has scraped human remains off of sidewalks and tavern floors.

In Oshkosh, La Crosse, and Milwaukee, highly intoxicated men, for whatever reason, are drawn to bodies of water like aluminum to magnets.  There are three easy steps young people can take to make sure that, after a rough night on the town, they wake-up in a safe environment.

Although DWD (drowning while drunk) tends of be a male phenomenon, women, if over served, sometimes become sexual victims.  Having had candid conversations with a handful of coppers who routinely patrol Milwaukee’s Water Street, sober men—too cheap to pay a cover or buy a drink—often stand outside nightclubs at bar time waiting to take advantage of the alcohol-fueled inhibitions of inebriated women.

When planning a night out, it is important to come-up with a plan to ensure the safety of those you care about. This is serious business, so take my advice, and read the tips I provide in Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I & 2, available now at

Is the FBI Being Wronged by the Bill of Rights?

In a free society, judicial oversight ensures that government agents have a legitimate basis to believe criminal activity is occurring before seizing personal papers, eavesdropping on private communications, or intruding in private domiciles. Probable cause—the quantum of evidence that would lead a reasonable peace officer to believe that a crime has been committed, is being committed, or might be committed—is a relatively low burden to meet.

This burden of proof, however, is apparently not low enough for the FBI.  At an American Bar Association luncheon, the FBI’s general counsel, Andrew Weissman, told those in attendance that the 1994 Communications Assistance for Law Enforcement Act (CALEA) limits agents’ abilities to conduct surveillance of some Web-based communications, such as Google’s g-mail.

“We’re making the ability to intercept communications with a court order increasingly obsolete,” Weissman said, while lamenting that “criminals” make use of some Internet applications to communicate. He noted that a “top priority this year” for the FBI is congressional approval or an executive action that permits federal law enforcement to conduct surveillance of World-Wide Web password accessible accounts without a court order.

No doubt, Constitutional protections sometimes make gathering evidence more difficult, which is precisely why the founding father’s ratified the Fourth Amendment. If the FBI believes that the activities of those involved in criminal activity merit a significant threat to public safety, then its agents should conduct the necessary due diligence and seek judicial orders.

In 2008, congress approved several amendments to the 1978 the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).

“Specifically, the new legislation dramatically expands the government’s ability to wiretap without meaningful judicial oversight, by redefining “oversight” so that the feds can drag their feet on getting authorization almost indefinitely,” noted ARS Technica reporter Timothy Lee. “It also gives the feds unprecedented new latitude in selecting eavesdropping targets, latitude that could be used to collect information on non-terrorist-related activities like P2P copyright infringement and online gambling. In short, the FISA Amendments Act of 2008 opens up loopholes so large that the feds could drive a truck loaded down with purloined civil liberties through it.”

And what would discourage federal law enforcement from continually asking congress and/or the President to incrementally chip away at the privacy protections of Americans, since lawmakers have winked-and-nodded at virtually every request to marginalize the Fourth Amendment since 2001?

‘Gimme, gimme, gimme,’ continues to be the mantra of law enforcement officials as they seek to curtail the civil liberties of Americans in the name of public safety.  It is time for an adult in the room to stand-up, draw a line in the sand, and tell these officials that, if they can’t get the job done the way others have managed to do so since 1791 (the year the Bill of Rights were ratified), then it is time to step aside.

Soon-to-be Released Novel Focuses on the Paranormal and the Police

Recently, I was asked to review a substantial portion of the manuscript for Mitchell Nevin’s soon-to-be released novel, which explores the intersection where law enforcement and the paranormal meet.  Most detectives are extremely skeptical of psychics, although a handful insist that those with ‘special abilities’ have proved helpful. Nevin’s new novel is based primarily in Milwaukee, Chicago, Eau Claire and the Twin Cities, although several other towns gain mention. The plot is concise, free-flowing, and well researched.

According to my publisher, the new novel is still a work in progress.  If readers have had any experiences with psychics—good, bad or indifferent—please visit and feel free to comment, as the author is still interested in gathering input.


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

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




Milwaukee Dismemberment Case Fuels Speculation

Based on a handful of e-mails to SF, the May 30 discovery of a dismembered body in a Milwaukee sewer is cause for intense speculation.  One person asked if a serial killer was on the loose.  Yet another said the crime brought back memories of Johnny Deep dismembering the body of a slain mobster in the movie Donnie Brasco.

What we do know is Department of Public Works employees conducting routine maintenance on a sewerline stumbled upon—no pun intended—human body parts near N. 40th Street  and  W. Garfield Avenue on the city’s north side. An August 16 report, released by the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner’s office, notes that the homicide victim’s upper arms and torso are “still missing.”

“It must be a dope dealer,” one person wrote.  “Why hasn’t anyone reported the victim missing?”

This question is impossible to answer since the medical examiner (ME) and the Wisconsin Regional Crime Lab are unable to identify the body. This means the victim’s DNA is not on file with the Wisconsin Department of Justice or CODUS—the FBI’s nationwide DNA database.

The report from the ME’s office states that the person murdered was “an adult black male” who was “dismembered with an unknown tool.” 

In order to clear a homicide, it is important to establish an investigative timeline. This is virtually an impossible task when investigators are unable to identify the victim. Answering the ‘who’ question—as in who was murdered—enables detectives to develop a reference point in conjunction with relatives, friends, and acquaintances.

Moreover, it is risky to speculate about a motive without knowing the background of the victim. 

Consider the circumstances behind some recent North American dismemberment cases. 

  • In Elmore City, Oklahoma, authorities charged 30-year-old Justin Hammer with killing the ex-boyfriend of his girlfriend, dismembering the body, and placing the parts in a pond on his property.
  • In Bethany, OK, police located the dismembered body of 19-year-old Carina Saunders inside a military-style duffel bag. Two suspects, 34-year-old Jimmy Massey and 37-year-old Luis Ruiz, stand charged in connection to the young woman’s murder.
  • In Montreal, Canada, the so-called ‘cannibal killer,’ Luke Magnotta, killed and dismembered 32-year-old Jun Lin.  According to the Reuters News Service, “…police believe that the murder is shown in a gruesome online video of a man stabbing another man to death before dismembering and defiling the corpse.”
  • Outside of Detroit, members of the U.S. Coast Guard pulled the mutilated torsos of 32-year-old Danielle Greenway and 42-year-old Chris Hall from the Detroit River after their dismembered remains were spotted by a local angler. Prosecutors charged the couple’s houseguest, Roger Bowling, 39, with the slayings.
  • In Canada, a review of 13 dismemberment cases there indicates that, in the majority of instances, the suspects knew the victims.

The aforementioned cases seem to suggest that dismemberment victims typically know their killers.  However, before drawing any conclusions in the Brew City dismemberment slaying, it is important to know and understand the totality of the crime, although a hunch tells me that—absent the identity of the victim—this case might be difficult to clear. 

You can bet that homicide detectives from the Milwaukee Police Department are scouring missing persons reports from Milwaukee and, if need be, Chicago.


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

‘Flash Mob’ Offenders and Kid Gloves

Even a massive police presence was not enough to stop a group—estimated at over 100—from disrupting an otherwise peaceful event in Veterans Park on July 3. 

Some of those present in the park, just prior to the start of the city’s traditional fireworks display, claim a “flash mob,” consisting of scores of young people, entered Veterans Park and began vandalizing everything in their paths.

“There were so many of them,” one source said, “the police were helpless.” 

The park was full of families, many of them with young children, when the large-scale disturbance erupted.  

What’s more troubling is the mob seemed undeterred by a noticeable police presence. 

“There was literally a cop on every corner from North  Avenue all the way down to Summerfest,” reports another person.  “But even this didn’t stop the flash mob.”

A July 4, 2012, report in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel notes that two people were arrested for fighting at the lakefront and there was at least one report of “a crowd of possibly 100 youth screaming and running in the area.”

The flash mob in Veterans Park is eerily reminiscent of prior disturbances during Juneteenth Day, outside State Fair, and along N. Water Street on St. Patrick’s Day.  

The thousands of dollars spent on security for these events might be worth it if city officials and representatives from the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s office promised to hold every individual involved in such disturbances fully accountable. 

The lenient message sent by officials from the Milwaukee Police Department after the melee outside the Riverwest fireworks and raid on a nearby BP gas station a few years ago is that there are few if any consequences for anti-social behavior at pubic events. In the aftermath of the brazen BP gas station robbery–because that is what actually occurred–offenders were given ordiance violation citations.

During the “flash mob” incident at Veterans Park, the newspaper claims a police helicopter conducted surveillance of the crowd.  These hover craft are equipped with high-resolution video cameras. If the images of “flash mob” offenders were indeed captured by police, then Chief Flynn and his investigators need to spare no resources to identify and arrest those responsible.

Books for Summer Reading

With Summerfest 2012 soon-to-be an historical footnote, some of you might be on the lookout for a good book to read while traveling or spending some leisurely time at the beach.

If so, please checkout my new e-book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. I, available exclusively at, where I explore several cold case homicides, a handful of organized crimes figures, and an take a look at an ongoing war involving outlaw motorcycle gangs.

For readers with limited time, checkout The Cozen Protocol: a Shortcut Guide for Readers.  This 50-page book is akin to a Cliff Notes version of Mitchell Nevin’s classic crime novel that uses Milwaukee and its police department as its backdrop.


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

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.

Cities Looking to Milwaukee for Answers Need to Check the Right Places

As far as criminology is concerned, we live in interesting times.  While cities like New York and Milwaukee are experiencing significant decreases in crime, political leaders in Detroit, Chicago and New Orleans are searching for answers.

In Chicago, the 2011 homicide clearance rate was just 30 percent.[1] In some police districts on the Windy City’s south and west sides, the crime rate has skyrocketed to the point where Mayor Rahm Emanuel has asked for and is receiving assistance from federal law enforcement agencies.[2]

While the population of New Orleans is about half that of Milwaukee’s its homicide rate is more than double that of the brew city’s.[3] Yet New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu—a member of a family long associated with the Louisiana’s Democrat Party machine—is making a mistake by looking to Milwaukee’s Homicide Review Commission for answers. In about an hour, a solid Milwaukee street cop could reach the same conclusions as this commission and save taxpayers $500,000. Instead, Mayor Landrieu should take an in-depth look at the Milwaukee Police Department’s—past and present—policing strategies.

Historically, many of Milwaukee’s policing strategies are very similar to those of New York City’s, where both crime and incarceration rates have declined—the ultimate win-win for victims and taxpayers. In his book, The City that Became Safe, Franklin Zimring notes, “The 20-year adventure in New York City, was, to be sure, a demonstration project of effective policing, but it was much more than that. It was a demonstration that individual and aggregate crime rates can change substantially over time without removing or incarcerating a larger number of active offenders.”[4]

So what is driving crime rates down in New York City while incarceration rates are also decreasing? Zimring believes it is the NYPD’s aggressive stop and frisk policing model.

Regardless of what Milwaukee Magazine claims[5], the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) has had a long history of proactive policing programs.  In the early 1990s, District Two initiated a highly successful Directed Patrol Mission (DPM) to suppress gang activity. In the late 1990s, District Five used its neighborhood patrol staff to target drug and gang activity. In 1996, the old Gang Crimes Unit, which comprised just 3.3 percent of the MPD’s complement of sworn personnel, took over 3,100 guns off the street, while the Vice Control Division targeted drug dealers citywide. Around the turn of the century, District Three’s special units dramatically reduced violent crime in the Metcalfe Park area.

Retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis had an active hand in many of these district initiatives, long before university professors deemed aggressive proactive policing strategies hip-and-trendy.  Police can disrupt violent crime through policing strategies that hobble criminal organizations with a thousand cuts. Like any legitimate business, if key personnel of a criminal gang are unavailable an organization’s effectiveness decreases.

Yet long-term incarceration rates do have an overall affect on the violent crime rate. This is where criminologists, prosecutors, judges and law enforcement officials need to have a serious discussion about what type of individuals occupy prison beds.  While the U.S. accounts for 5 percent of the world’s population, America incarcerates 25 percent of the entire world’s inmates.[6] With the federal government running trillion dollar annual deficits and many state budgets in tatters, public safety officials need to ensure that prison beds be reserved for violent offenders, which should include those who traffic hard drugs.

A 1994 study of the prison population notes that “over half the offenders” sent to Wisconsin prisons each year committed property offenses.[7] Many of these offenders receive prison sentences for crimes committed in low-crime jurisdictions, which means other, more violent offenders get released to half-way houses or other non-traditional prison settings to make room for property offenders.

While officials in Detroit, Chicago, and New Orleans continue to scratch their heads, all Wisconsin needs is a little tweaking.


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

[1] “Only 30 Percent of Last Year’s Murders have been Solved.”, January 25, 2012. 10             Feb. 2012. been-solved/

[2] “Federal Agents to Assist Police in Fighting Crime on South, West Side.”, February 10,    2012. 10 Feb. 2012. fighting-crime-on-south-west-side/

[3] “Mayor Landrieu Unveils Plan to Reduce Murder Rate.” November 22, 2011. 10 Feb. 2012.

[4] Zimring, Franklin E. The City that Became Safe, New York, NY. Oxford Press, 2012.

[5] Bamberger, Tom.  “Street Smarts.” January 23, 2012.  10 Feb. 2012.       

[6] Talvi, Silja J.A. (2007). Women Behind Bars: The Crisis of Women in the U.S Prison System. Los    Angles. California: Seal Press. pp. xv.

[7] DiIjlio, John & Mitchell, George. “Who Really Goes to Prison in Wisconsin.” The Wisconsin Policy Institute Inc. Milwaukee, WI, April 1996.

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

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

Karma and Casey

To read this article, purchase the Best of the Spingola Files, coming to’s Kindle store in January 2012.

© Steven 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

Farwell Avenue Fait Accompli

To read this article, purchase the Best of the Spingola Files, coming to’s Kindle store in January 2012.

Seven 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

Retired MPD Captain Reviews Milwaukee-Based Crime Novel

As promised, the Spingola Files (SF) is proud to present retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis’ review of The Cozen Protocol, a 2010 Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award nominee.  



Author:    Mitchell Nevin

Setting:    Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Genre:      Crime & Corruption

The Cozen Protocol is a fictional book that tells how corruption and poor leadership within a police organization touches the lives of a number of people who are, or have been, associated with that organization.  Mitchell Nevin uses the city of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Police Department as his backdrop and blends elements of real incidents with fiction.  The characters range from the Department’s police chief to members of the police department’s Professional Performance Division (previously known as the Internal Affairs Division) to biker and Spanish gang members.  Each chapter is another piece of a very interesting puzzle that, when complete, will neatly tie up any loose ends for the reader.

 Without going into too much detail, the danger of undercover work (think Donnie Brasco, the movie about FBI Special Agent Joe Pistone as portrayed by Johnny Depp, who became “like them” to his wife and even to himself); the emphasis on getting guns off the street to reduce violent crime and the methods employed, which have officers walking a very fine line; and an overzealous attempt on the part of some members of the department to insure “integrity,” are brought to light in this book and the results are damaging to overall morale as one might expect.  This will all be familiar to those who lived through these experiences and, in some cases, had their careers altered permanently.  I’m talking about very good officers who were acting with the best of intentions in an almost “Mission Impossible” environment.    

 Those who were members of the Milwaukee Police Department over the past 25 to 35 years will especially enjoy the challenge of trying to link the traits of the characters in the book to people they encountered throughout their own careers and will also remember many of the real life incidents that are blended into the story.  Mitchell Nevin did an absolutely fantastic job of research in his preparation for writing this book, as he captures the frustrations of the rank-and-file members of the Department, who are working under internal conditions that not only present many obstacles but are dangerous to their professional and personal lives.

 Another part of the story line that the reader will find fascinating is the interaction between several of the law enforcement officer characters and a member of the media and defense attorney.  Some may find themselves saying that part of the book is definitely fiction, but others may have their own experiences, which affirm the validity of that part of the story.  Either way, it is one more piece of the puzzle that makes this book hard to put down.

The Cozen Protocol  also clearly identifies how inept leadership can influence the day-to-day environment of the working copper and detective; how important trust is in a law enforcement organization; and how difficult the job can be without trust.  Personal ambition and big egos are usually recipes for disaster, as Mitchell Nevin illustrates.

One main character stood out for me as I was reading the book.  Detective Gavin Fitzgerald was a street smart, steady, level headed investigator who had a combination of real street experience, wisdom and a dedication to duty.  He was well respected by his peers and his immediate supervisor and knew how to work around the obstacles presented by management.   Gavin Fitzgerald struck me as a law enforcement officer who wasn’t consumed with himself or where he could get on the job.  He also struck me as one who didn’t make excuses and who saw the job as a calling.  The last page of the last chapter of the book sealed that for me.

 There are lessons to be learned even from a fictional book such as this.  Police chiefs need to understand that quality of supervision matters.  Supervisors need to understand that with authority comes responsibility – and that includes making decisions.  Good coppers and detectives need to understand their obligations to take promotional exams with an eye toward becoming the kind of supervisors and leaders they themselves want to see in the organization.   Day-to-day operations need to be critiqued with an eye toward improvement.  For example, when a special unit is deployed to fight street gang activity it needs to work collectively as a team of uniformed and plainclothes officers – not individually – and the teams must be led by capable supervisors who have a demonstrated work history and who work with them.   The teams are best deployed on a district-by-district basis rather than from some central “downtown” location.  This allows for greater control; much better cooperation and intelligence from the good people of the neighborhoods, which builds “trust and confidence” and leads to a more surgical operation and less collateral damage; and better accountability and response to problems.  To be sure, a “central” intelligence gathering unit is necessary to coordinate certain investigations and link criminal operations that transcend district boundaries, however the street level operations are much more effective and efficient if performed by selected uniformed officers and detectives who work as a team and patrol as “a pack” out of the district stations.   

The wise officer/detective/supervisor and even a police chief will take something from this book and apply it to his/her operational/administrative style and hopefully make the work environment a little bit better for those people who are out there fighting crime.

 As for The Cozen Protocol, I highly recommend this book and am sure the reader will enjoy it as much as I did.  It wouldn’t surprise me if someone makes it into a television movie on the order of Joseph Wambaugh’s The Choir Boys or The New Centurions.


Glenn D. Frankovis served with the Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) from 1975 to 2004.  During his career, he served on the MPD’s Tactical Enforcement Unit and later commanded Districts Five and Three on Milwaukee’s north side.

Editor’s note: Since SF has received serveral inquries, The Cozen Protocol is an e-book available exclusively at  Readers can download the novel to a PC, Kindle, iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch.  The software to download Kindle books to a PC is free.  To obtain the software, visit the “Free e-books to PC software” link on the right side of this Web page.

Copyright, Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011

Retired Milwaukee PD Captain and Crime-Fighter Extraordinaire to Review Book Exclusively for SF

An 2010 Breakthrough Novel of the Year Award nominee, Mitchell Nevin’s book, The Cozen Protocol, is a story that features a fictional gang war and the Milwaukee Police Department’s response. 

Frequent SF readers are aware that I have touted the book.  The dialogue between characters is solid, which enables the public to walk-a-mile in the shoes of those wearing a badge. 

Today, I am pleased to announce that retired Milwaukee Police Department Captain Glenn Frankovis has agreed to review The Cozen Protocol .  For those of you who are unfamiliar with him, Glenn was a no nonsense commander that minced few words when it came to fighting crime in Milwaukee.  His leadership resulted in significant declines in violent crime rates while leading Districts Five and Three.  He also possesses a unique understanding of the structure of the Milwaukee Police Department and that bureaucracy’s response to unfolding events. 

Glenn Frankovis’ leadership in the area of proactive policing is the uniform equivalent to author and retired Detective Lieutenant Dave Kane’s knowledge of the homicide unit—both men know what makes police officers and detectives tick.

My hope is to have Glenn’s review of The Cozen Protocol posted within the next week.  I am sure that his take on the novel will be worth the wait.

For more information, please visit


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.

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