MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan is encouraging Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn to release public records related to a newspaper investigation on the city's crime statistics. This, after Chief Flynn said he would charge the paper $10,000 for 800 public records.
Chief Flynn said the cost is related to redacting, or blacking out, the names of crime victims and other sensitive information before the records would be released.
The paper has asked for tens of thousands of documents, and Chief Flynn said taxpayers shouldn't have to fund their agenda.
Chief Flynn addressed reporters Wednesday afternoon after the newspapers latest investigation. The paper says its reporters found hundreds of misreported aggravated assaults. In fact, the paper says in 2011, violent crime in Milwaukee actually went up over a percent — instead of going down over two percent, compared to 2010.
Chief Flynn admits the department has found mistakes that go as far back as 2006, but he argued there’s no way to know a trend for that year. Chief Flynn attributed the mistakes to challenging software, and said officers have been and will continue to be retrained.
The exchange took place between Chief Flynn and reporter Bill Glauber:
Bill Glauber: “When are you going to make the reports available and stop hiding behind $10,000 charges?”
Chief Flynn: “Oh, gosh. Well when are you going to give us your notes? Guess what? When it costs thousands of dollars to feed you, we don’t think your allegedly for-profit enterprise should get that stuff for free.”
Glauber: “So you don’t want to answer questions?”
Chief Flynn: “I answered it. You heard it. Sorry you don’t like it.”
Milwaukee Alderman Mike Murphy said everyone, including Milwaukee's Common Council, wants the truth when it comes to the city's crime statistics. However, Alderman Murphy said there has to be a balance between the public's right to know and giving out sensitive crime information.
Alderman Donovan said he's not choosing sides, but he is publicly encouraging Chief Flynn to give the newspaper what it wants, and be transparent.
"The media plays an important role. I think the more obstacles we put up, the greater that leads to people beginning to have doubts," Alderman Donovan said.
FOX6 News spoke with the Dean of Criminal Justice at UW-Milwaukee, Stan Stojkovic. He said it is rare, but fudging crime statistics has happened in departments around the country. He said he thinks it is important for people to withhold judgement pending a thorough investigation.
"I`ve been through six police chiefs in Milwaukee in my tenure, and I`ve never seen in my history at UW-Milwaukee, a police chief that is more forthright, articulate and wants to do what is right by the citizens," Stojkovic said.