MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee police recorded 24 homicides in the month of August -- and officials say that is the highest monthly total since the July 1991 discovery in Jeffrey Dahmer’s apartment.
"The overwhelming problem in this city is violent crime," Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said.
Flynn on Thursday, September 1st pointed out that Milwaukee has a population of 594,833. Police say there were 24 homicides in the month of August. That's 4.0 homicides per 100,000 people. For comparison, Chicago has a population of 2,695,598. Chicago had 90 homicides in August. That is 3.3 homicides per 100,000 people -- or a lower rate than the City of Milwaukee.
"The biggest driver of our homicides are arguments, fights and retaliation by people with criminal records," Flynn said.
Flynn estimated that 80 percent of the city's homicides were a result of gun violence. Part of the solution, he said, starts with increasing penalties for felons caught in possession of a firearm.
"Milwaukee is a firearm rich environment. Making, you know, conceal carry illegally a misdemeanor no matter how many times you`re arrested is foolish. It`s foolhardy" said Chief Flynn.
Officials say Milwaukee police officers have taken more 1,600 guns off the streets in 2016; 211 in August alone.
Flynn also mentioned that five of the 24 people killed in the month of August were killed during the unrest in the Sherman Park neighborhood.
"Five people were murdered on the day of the riot and that was lost in the news. Since that riot, this police department has had to spend extraordinary resources, balancing the demands of people who insisted on mourning an armed individual killed by police by taking over a neighborhood," Flynn said. "And for the better part of two weeks, the neighborhood and police department tolerated it until finally, at the behest of the neighborhood and elected officials, we intervened."
Chief Flynn indicated he is not trying to trying to minimize what happened in Sherman Park -- but to point out the "overwhelming problem" in this city is violent crime.
"The fact remains we have to get out there and engage with the offending community on their turf -- and we're committed to continue to do that in a way that's both lawful and restrained. I would urge many of those most vocal in their criticism of the police dept. to lend some of their energy, some of their concern to the to the extraordinary rates of violent crime that are afflicting us," Flynn said.
Flyn noted that the majority of homicide victims and assailants are African-American.
Flynn did mention that his investigators have been getting good cooperation in solving homicides. He said they are getting less cooperation from people when it comes to non-fatal shootings.
"What we are confronting is more than a little bit of witness intimidation," Flynn said. "It's becoming a rational act for people to be able to cooperate with the police because those offenders who are armed and dangerous and survive have a very much serious vested interest in intimidating those who would truthfully testify to the circumstances."