Posts tagged “Tom Barrett

Clarke v. Baldwin? An Election for the Ages

After thumping his opponent in the Democrat Party primary Tuesday, there is a lot of speculation about the political future of Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke.  Some talking heads think the sheriff will enter the race for Milwaukee mayor.  Others believe that after this term, Clarke will simply ride his horse into the sunset and take a talk-radio gig.

From SF’s perspective, Clarke needs to think bigger.  The sheriff might want to consider backing Bob Donovan’s candidacy to knock-off Tom Barrett and, instead, finish his term, accept a talk-radio spot, and then challenge Tammy Baldwin, who critics have dubbed Wisconsin’s “do-nothing” U.S. Senator.

Clarke v. Baldwin would be a classic match-up.  The ultra-liberal Baldwin resides, of course, in the ultra-liberal city of Madison.  Clarke lives in Milwaukee, where residents of the metro area roll-up their sleeves and are not afraid to get their hands dirty.  Baldwin lends de facto support to those who belly-ache about racial disparities in the criminal justice system.  Sheriff Clarke makes no excuses for criminals, regardless of their skin color.  Baldwin supports President Obama’s gun control initiatives; Clarke supports thug control.

Tammy Baldwin is not up for reelection until 2018, a non-Presidential year election typically dominated by right-of-center voters.   And liberals probably gave Sheriff Clarke’s state-wide name recognition a huge boost by throwing a kitchen sink’s worth of political resources at him, including a $150,000 from New York City’s former Orwellian, nanny-state  mayor, Michael “Big Brother” Bloomberg.

Traveling the state prior to last Tuesday’s primary, I was surprised to see how many supporters Clarke had in rural areas of Wisconsin.   By raising the sheriff’s profile, the Democrat Party can thank Tom Barrett, Chris Abele, WEAC, and Michael Bloomberg, for a surge in Clarke’s  out-state appeal.


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

Does Police Chief Flynn Believe the Constitution is Irrelevant?

There was a time, and it wasn’t that long ago, when members of the local police proudly served their communities free from the yoke of federal law enforcement.  In the 1980s and 1990s, cops on the beat and detectives hunting down suspects kept a distance from the likes of the FBI—an agency that routinely looked down their noses at ‘the locals.’

When watching a television drama, such as Criminal Minds, I sometimes chuckle when the FBI’s 20 and 30 something agents make veteran police investigators look like second-rate cops.  When it comes to clearing a serious crime, I would much rather have a core group of Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) homicide detectives working with me than a slew of FBI agents, many of whom rarely work the streets, and then rib the handful of their colleagues that actually do.

After 9/11, however, the federal government realized that its agents desperately needed the intelligence gleaned by ‘the locals,’ whose officers pounded the pavement 24 x 7.  In order to bring state and local law enforcement agencies into a national fold, Uncle Sam dangled billions of dollars in grants in front of the noses of mayors and police chiefs.  This “free money,” as it is insanely described by the likes of Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, became a powerful drug that quickly turned some police chiefs into addicts constantly on a lookout for their next fix—another federal government handout.

In the interim, having taken the federal government’s money, local police agencies now served two masters—the residents of their communities and the US Justice Department.   Milwaukee’s chief of police, Ed Flynn, took the fed’s bait money and established an “intelligence fusion center,” an operation staffed by federal agents, members of the National Guard, state agents, and several members of the MPD, even though, in many instances, those who summon the services of the Milwaukee police often wait hours for an officer to respond.

Moreover, as federal, state and local law enforcement morphed together, the decentralization of authority—a concept our nation’s founders saw as a buffer against tyranny—has ebbed to the point where leaders of police agencies in New York City and Milwaukee apparently no longer believe that the Fourth Amendment is relevant and sacrosanct.

On June 11, Wall Street Journal reporter Heather Mac Donald profiled the case of Floyd v. New York, a federal lawsuit brought to “specifically target” the NYPD’s stop-and-frisk policy.

A “stop,” based on a “reasonable suspicion” of wrong doing, and a “frisk,” premised on an officer’s “reasonable and articulable” belief that a person might be armed, was a practice upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court in the landmark case of Terry v. Ohio.

In New York City, however, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s stop-and-frisk policy omits the “reasonable and articulable” part of the equation.  In plan speak; the NYPD’s policy thumbs its nose at the Fourth Amendment and the judicial precedents established by our nation’s highest court, which, prior to the Patriot Act, was respected as the rule of law.

In her article, Ms. Mac Donald appears to find a prominent supporter of Ray Kelly’s frisk without cause policy on the seventh floor of Milwaukee Police Administration Building.

“Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn has said that it will be a “tragedy” if his city is forced to curtail the pedestrian stops that have reduced crime in inner-city neighborhoods,” wrote Ms. Mac Donald.

“That’s what worries us about what’s happening in New York,” Chief Flynn told the Los Angeles Times in April. “It would just be a shame if some people decided to put us back in our cars just answering calls and ceding the streets to thugs.”

Asking the police to follow the guidelines put in place by the U.S. Supreme Court that frisks should be based on an officer’s “reasonable and articulable suspicion” that an individual is armed hardly equates to shuttering officers inside their squad cars.  Chief Flynn, as Commissioner Kelly, took an oath to uphold and defend the Constitution of the United States.  Ray Kelly’s willingness to trample on the Fourth Amendment, and Chief Ed Flynn’s apparent support for such a policy, illustrates why public officials should be viewed skeptically when they ask the public to trust them with the use of drones, cellular telephone monitoring technologies, and widespread government data collection.

This new American age of Machiavellian-type governance; whereby, the “ends justifies the means,” might work well for autocrats in China, Russia, and Cuba, but should have no relevance in the United States, where our nation—once the home of the free—has, in a historical blink of an eye, mutated into the land of the watched.


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

Ads on Crime and the Recall

Over the course of the past week, a handful of people have inquired about the validity of some of the political ads bombarding the airwaves in the final days of Wisconsin’s gubernatorial recall election.

An ad run by Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett’s campaign committee attempts to tar Gov. Scott Walker with the guilt by association brush linked to an ongoing Joe Doe probe in Milwaukee County.  Barrett’s ad claims that an aide to Walker will soon be “indicted”

In Wisconsin, persons accused of criminal misconduct are not “indicted,” they are charged in a criminal complaint. Moreover, John Doe investigations are secretive inquires conducted in a closed courtroom.  The participants are sworn to keep information provided to either the court or to investigators confidential.  So either Barrett’s campaign is working hand-in-hand with an operative that is violating a judge’s secrecy order or the ad is fabricating information. If the former is true, the ad  itself calls for an investigation.

Gov. Walker’s campaign is running a spot accusing Mayor Barrett of purposely misrepresenting Milwaukee Police Department (MPD) crime statistics.

But unlike other departments within City of Milwaukee government, the police department is a semi-autonomous organization.  In other words, at least on paper, the mayor does not directly oversee the activities of the chief-of-police. That is the job of the Fire and Police Commission (FPC)—a civilian oversight board appointed by the mayor. Since the FPC’s members are close enough to the mayor to receive appointments, when the mayor whispers in their ears, they are likely to support Barrett’s policies. Nonetheless, Mayor Barrett’s office likely had little if any involvement in the collection and reporting of MPD crime statistics. 

In the past, however, Mike Crivello, the President of the Milwaukee Police Association (MPA), appeared in front of the Fire and Police Commission and questioned the MPD’s crime stats. Having read through minutes of the FPC’s meetings, it appears the board did little, if anything, to independently verify or debunk Crivello’s complaint.  For example, the FPC might have requested an audit by the city comptroller.

SF’s advice to recall election voters: look for the candidate that runs on and stands by his record. After all, these campaign ads illustrate that politicians say an awful lot of things, but, at the end of the day, it is what they do that affects our daily lives.

Just Released: Cozen Protocol Shortcut Guide for Readers

In the fast-paced age we live-in, finding the needed time to delve into a 328-page novel is sometimes impossible. Now, there is some good news for time conscious readers.

Last Friday, R & G Readers released the shortcut version of The Cozen Protocol—the crime novel that uses the city of Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Police Department as its backdrop, while blending—what some MPD veterans believe—elements of real incidents with fiction.

For more information, visit:

The shortcut version provides a chapter-by-chapter summary of The Cozen Protocol, provides a list of characters, and explains the novel’s vernacular.


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

Two Major Police Unions Make Endorsements in State-Wide Recall

With this summer’s state-wide recall elections quickly approaching, two major police unions have made their endorsements in the race for governor.

The Wisconsin Professional Police Officers Association (WPPA), an umbrella group that represents officers from smaller police agencies, has endorsed Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.  This is an interesting decision, especially since Barrett figuratively put a gun to the leadership of the Milwaukee Police Association (MPA)—a group whose members were exempted from Gov. Walker’s Act 10 budget repair bill—and threatened furlough days for Milwaukee police officers if they refused  to accept Act 10 provisions.

So how can Barrett advocate for the repeal of Act 10 and then demand than his city’s police officers, who received an exemption, comply with the provisions of this act for the purposes of trimming millions of dollars from the City of Milwaukee’s budget?

“At a news conference at WPPA headquarters,” Real Clear Politics reports, “Barrett insisted he supports collective bargaining rights for all public workers. He said he made the request to expand the law to Milwaukee police and firefighters because he realized Walker was trying to “divide and conquer” public workers and he couldn’t afford to pit city workers against one other.”

But other labor leaders are suspicious of Barrett, as they believe the mayor gladly used the provisions of Gov. Walker’s budget repair bill. One of the state’s largest public employee unions released a video highly critical of the Milwaukee mayor.

Moreover, one has to challenge the wisdom of Jim Palmer, the current WPPA Executive Director.  Why would a police union endorse Barrett—a politician who insists that police officers, who received an exemption from Act 10 by Gov. Walker, lose their exemption?  Why not endorse Kathleen Falk, who has made a quid pro quo deal with state unions to repeal Act 10 or support Gov. Walker, who exempted Palmer’s members from Act 10?

Some of you might recall that Palmer from this prior SF post.

On the other side of the coin, the two public safety unions that know Barrett best—the Milwaukee Police Association and the Milwaukee Professional Firefighters Association—have endorsed Gov. Walker.

“Gov. Walker has a strong record of supporting public safety with an unwavering commitment to first responders,” said Michael Crivello, president of the Milwaukee Police Association.

As the recall election quickly approaches, it remains to be seen how these law enforcement endorsements will affect the outcome.  However, if the last state Supreme Court race is a barometer, a few hundred votes might decide who wins or loses.


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