Ed Flynn shares thoughts on 10 years of service to Milwaukee; “I feel really good about the work that’s been done”

MILWAUKEE -- The Ed Flynn era is officially over in the City of Milwaukee. At close of business on Friday, Feb. 16, Flynn became a civilian and Alfonso Morales became the interim police chief.

A few days after Flynn announced his retirement, a police photographer surprised Flynn with a wall of pictures that tell part of the story of his ten years as police chief.

"I just want that disclaimer as I sit here, this is not an altar to my ego," Flynn said. "That's the Harley-Davidson parade were I had to learn how. I didn't even try to learn to ride a two-wheeler."

There is laughing Ed Flynn, in charge Ed Flynn, and even angry to the point of tears Ed Flynn.

Ted Perry: You have not been afraid to show your emotions.

Chief Flynn: Well, sometimes you can't completely tamp it down -- and you have to swallow hard.

In ten years as chief, Ed Flynn rarely held his tongue -- whether defending his department from critics or attacking bodies he feels are an impediment to doing his job.

Ed Flynn

"l believe there's an extraordinarily higher degree of trust in our department than some folks would have you believe," Flynn said. "My concern is the Fire and Police Commission isn't going to let the next chief be the chief."

Flynn was not just outspoken, but usually eloquent in making his point. One officer called him the smartest man he ever met.

Flynn's is the second departure of a high-profile department head from Milwaukee. Former Sheriff David Clarke resigned suddenly from his post last August.

Perry: What was your relationship life with Sheriff Clarke? Could you work together? Did you work together?

Flynn: Dave, at some point in time, decided he wanted to be a celebrity rather than manage a complex organization. So we didn't see eye to eye on much and sometimes I would poke back because I couldn't help it.

Ed Flynn

But Flynn is also critical of himself, saying more than once he erred in how he handled some incidents. Sometimes, he said, he was too defensive and not empathetic enough.

Still, as Flynn looks at a decade at the helm, he feels the city is better policed on the day he leaves as it was the day he arrived.

"I've got macro issues about the future of the community and it's ability to confront its challenges. But when it comes to the nuts and bolts of our police efforts, I feel really good about the work that's been done," Flynn said.

Flynn is moving back to Alexandria, Virginia where his wife and adult kids live. He said he will likely come back to Milwaukee, but said it will probably be for depositions in some pending legal cases.

Ed Flynn