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Police Chief Flynn responds to report on crime code changes

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn was forced on Wednesday, June 13th to address another Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigative report on crime statistics in the city.

The latest Journal-Sentinel story 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 accused the newspaper of being in a calculated campaign to discredit the Milwaukee Police Department.

"Because the only way to get a crime trend against city of Milwaukee's interests is to assume that 2010's error rate was zero. The author of that article knows the error rate in 2010 was not zero and so do we. The implication in the coverage appears to be that there's some sort of nefarious plot going on to intentionally mislead the public, and I reject those findings. Certainly, none of it is any type of orchestrated attempt. I don't need to make up numbers to prove my cops are having an impact on the quality of life and level of violence in our neighborhoods," Flynn said Wednesday.

A police sergeant walked reporters through the reporting process and said the numerous options have complicated the process for some of MPD's staff. Because of that staff has been retrained over the last several months, and will train more.

When asked for comment, the Journal Sentinel's managing editor told FOX6 News the paper is not on a witch hunt - they just want accurate information.

“We have one agenda, and that’s trying to find out where the truth is. We’ve been working on this for quite some time, trying to get records from the Milwaukee police, and they haven’t made them available. We had to sue to get records, and today they said we had to pay $10,000 just to get 800 crime reports," Journal Sentinel Managing Editor George Stanley said.

To explain how some things have been misreported, Chief Flynn gave an example of a bar fight where police discover one of the men had a gun, but it wasn't ever used. He said that can be confusing for some of his staff to sort through the 13 options of assaults; to know how to classify it. Flynn said it's why some have been changed by hand, and why he's making sure everyone is retrained.

The FBI is conducting an investigation to MPD's reporting of crime numbers - something Chief Flynn said he welcomes, because he wants to ensure the City of Milwaukee is receiving accurate information when it comes to crime.

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