Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn, in an interview with a local television station, accused me of undermining public safety in Milwaukee County by issuing a personal safety ad on the radio recently.

In a previous interview with reporter Ben Poston (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 6, 2011) Chief Flynn offered this view on Milwaukee residents complaining about having to wait too long for a police response to some very serious calls for service:

"Since the average resident of this city is willing to wait four hours for the cable guy and half a day for a furniture delivery, it seems to me a reasonable delay in responding for a call is an acceptable balance. I'm willing to accept increased response time for decreased crime.” 

The problem is that right now we have even worse response times and rising crime.

[Editor's note: According to the JS study in 2011:

    • Strong Armed Robbery - Response time increase of 94% since 2005
    • Battery and Domestic Violence- Response time increase of 75% since 2005
    • Theft- Response time increase of 72% since 2005
    • Entry- Response time increase of 71% since 2005
    • Reckless Use of Weapon- Response time increase of 68% since 2005
    • Sexual Assault- Response time increase of 58% since 2005
    • Property Damage- Response time increase of 51% since 2005
    • Stolen Vehicle- Response time increase of 46% since 2005
    • Armed Robbery- Response time increase of 46% since 2005
    • Battery- Response time increase of 45% since 2005
    • Subject Down- Response time increase of 39% since 2005
    • Fire- Response time increase of 33% since 2005
    • Theft From Vehicle- Response time increase of 21% since 2005
    • ]The only crime where response time has actually decreased since 2005 are shootings, where the response time has decreased by 8%.]

Flynn’s let them eat cake attitude is what undermines the Police Department, not my message on how people can better protect themselves and their families when under attack while waiting for an officer to arrive.  I’m surprised that Chief Flynn didn’t tell the reporter that if people in Milwaukee want quicker response times they should call Jimmy John’s. 

Here is the frustration that a resident (I won’t use his last name) of Milwaukee expressed in an interview (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, October 2011) about long response times:


Thom opens his front door in the Sherman Park neighborhood and looks toward the corner of N. 49th and W. Hadley streets.  Within seconds, he hears two gunshots pierce the warm autumn night. A woman screams in terror, and two cars screech their tires and are gone.  He considers calling 911 to inform the Milwaukee Police Department but tells a reporter it's pointless.

"I don't bother calling on a few shots anymore," said Thom, 56. "Why bother to get involved? If someone was hit, they can call it in. But on a Friday night like this, you'll just be put on hold."

There is a disconnect here. As a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, I know that response times matter to Milwaukee residents.  They always have and always will.  Thom and many others do not need to be lectured to about what is best for them.  Expect Chief Flynn to come out with some hocus pocus new response time numbers soon to get people to stop thinking and talking about it.  That’s his strategy.  Don’t buy it folks.  He’s been proven in the past to play fast and loose with statisitcs. 

In another newspaper interview recently, (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 11, 2013) Chief Flynn acknowledged that even the criminals have caught up with his strategy and he needed to regroup.  People in need of police service do not have time to wait while he “regroups.”

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Chief Flynn and other believers in government dependency need to learn that they can no longer tell law abiding citizens how and when to protect themselves.  Wisconsin, by enacting Castle Doctrine and the Personal Protection Act, has empowered individual citizens to make those decisions in certain situations concerning themselves.  That has to be a bitter pill to swallow for Barrett and Flynn.

Mayor Barrett told a nationwide television audience recently that he asked Chief Flynn if furloughing every police officer three days each this year, when they already have over 200 vacancies, could be handled by the department and he said the Chief approved.  By that move, Barrett and Flynn have abandoned both the officers on the street who are drowning in calls for service and the residents of the city as they deal with crime and violence. 

By the way, when does any preventive patrol occur?  And Flynn says he has time to patrol parks?

My idea takes the state's Castle Law Doctrine which provides the legal basis, and the Personal Protection Act which provides citizens the tools to defend themselves, to inform law-abiding citizens that they have a right to defend themselves before police arrive.  Along with that I told them I have their back.

I believe in empowering Milwaukee residents who see personal safety as an individual responsibility.  One hundred fifty-five thousand CCW permit holders in this state do as well.   I am not afraid of a law abiding citizen with a gun, I’m afraid of the criminal with a gun and soft-on-crime prosecutors and judges.

David A. Clarke Jr. is the Milwaukee County Sheriff