MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn testified before the Milwaukee Common Council’s Public Safety Committee on Thursday, June 21st, regarding allegations his department has misreported crime numbers.
The initial request for Flynn’s testimony came after a newspaper investigation found more than 500 serious assaults misclassified as minor offenses.
An internal audit looked at Milwaukee Police Department crime statistics over the past six years. Flynn said the audit showed the department under-reported crimes during that time, but also showed the overall crime rates and violent crimes in the city continue to drop, contrary to what was found in the newspaper’s investigation.
Flynn started his presentation by saying he was not at war with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. He said he was indignant about the implication that there is a vast conspiracy to mislead the community on crime stats.
“Despite these classification errors, the work of the men and women of this department has mattered,” Flynn said.
Flynn said his staff has been retrained on how to best report the data and properly using the crime-reporting software.
The Milwaukee Police Department‘s internal audit focused on specific areas where they expected errors to occur. In the area of aggravated assaults, the updated numbers show more assaults for every year. However, the trend, like it was before, is going down.
Several Milwaukee aldermen wanted to say on the record they have never heard from a Milwaukee police officer that there was any kind of conspiracy.
But Alderman Joe Dudzik testified officers have reported to him they have seen crime reports get changed, and he said the numbers don’t reflect the community perception.
Flynn replied by saying victims of crimes have higher crime perception. He also blamed media coverage.
“The media generally is market driven and if people want to see crime news, they’re going to get crime news. There’s no changing the fact they’re going to be affected by what they see,” Flynn said.
Several aldermen were clearly affected by the department’s audit. In the end, they lashed out at the Journal Sentinel’s reporting and the Milwaukee media in general.
“To sit there and make accusations that they’re fudging the number and not being honest is wrong. It’s just totally wrong,” Alderman Robert Puente said.
“Again to the press, do your flippin’ job and do it right! Stop being so lazy,” Alderman Jim Bohl said.
During the latest incident in which Flynn addressed the newspaper’s investigation, things got heated after the newspaper disclosed Flynn had said it would charge the paper $10,000 for 800 public records.
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