Posts tagged “Paul Zientek

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

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

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

There are, however, profound degrees of misconduct. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

 © Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2011