New crime statistics show jump in assaults in Milwaukee

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- There's been a huge jump in the number of aggravated assaults in the city of Milwaukee. But the city's police chief says that may be a good thing.

Overall, the eight most serious of crimes reported in Milwaukee barely changed from 2011 to 2013 -- dropping less than 300 or .8% But when you break that number down, you'll find thefts and robberies at a six-year low, while aggravated assaults, which include acts of domestic violence, rose a staggering 33% -- or more than 1,000 incidents.

Police Chief Ed Flynn believes the jump in those aggravated assault numbers does not necessarily mean more than 1,000 more incidents occurred. He says over the past year, his officers have doubled down on trying to help victims of domestic violence.

Carmen Pitre is the Executive Director of the Sojourner Family Peace Center. The agency has seen its own domestic violence referral numbers also jump. She agrees with Chief Flynn in part, but argues even statistics have their limits.

"We sort of think of it as a pyramid and what we know, the reported violence is the top of the pyramid. What's actually happening in our community is this broad base of violence that's impacting people," said Pitre.

"The big strategic picture is we've made a lot of progress. But clearly we need to start making some adjustments because the improvements have slowed down," said Chief Flynn.

While the new statistics show total crime has dropped more than 20% since 2007, the fact is most of that improvement came within the following three years. When you look at the most recent year-to-year stats, some categories show only minor changes in either direction.

Chief Flynn believes the criminal community has adjusted to the new tactics he brought to the office and it's time for a new strategy.

"We've got some plans. We're not ready to release them yet, but we're going to be adjusting our tactics as we continue to try to understand the nature of the problem we're dealing with and make sure our responses are appropriate," said Chief Flynn.

Chief Flynn made a point to say a vast majority of the murder and aggravated assault victims have serious criminal histories. Noting that violence is highly concentrated within the community and the likelihood of just anyone becoming a victim is "exceedingly remote."

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