Domestic Violence Reports Up in Milwaukee

Domestic violence rose 48 percent in 2012, according to Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn. Flynn presented Milwaukee’s 2012 crime statistics to the public safety committee at a meeting Thursday morning.

Flynn said this didn’t necessarily mean there was more domestic violence.

After The Milwaukee Police Department collaborated with the Sojourner Family Peace Center and the District Attorney’s Office last year, more victims had the resources and felt safe enough to come forward. This is large in part to the Sojourner Family Peace Center, an advocacy group which provides education and resources to help keep victims of domestic abuse safe.

There has been recent controversy over crime statistics in Milwaukee. The MPD has been accused of deliberately under reporting crime. This would make it seem like violent crime was decreasing in Milwaukee more than it really was. An auditor, Edward Claughton, said he found no scrap of evidence that the coding errors were on purpose. Flynn said the MPD has implemented software and training improvement, though he did admit there was some human error as well.

This controversy was briefly brought up at Thursday’s meeting, though no committee members seemed concerned it was still an issue.

There was also an increase in juvenile crime in 2012, with Flynn calling group juvenile crime “a real challenge for our system right now.”

Alderman Robert Bauman agreed, and told Flynn something had to change. “It’s not even a tap on the wrist anymore; it’s catch and release.” Bauman later called the treatment of juveniles a “systematic failure of the justice system.”

Flynn agreed, and said much of the juvenile crime is hidden behind more headline grabbers, such as homicide.

While Flynn admits juveniles, who mainly commit burglaries and car thefts, is a slightly new challenge, he hopes to get a hold of the juveniles before it is too late. Flynn said he understood that for a young man in a gang in Milwaukee, it is a rational decision to arm themselves rather than to be vulnerable. Flynn is just hoping the MPD can help more juveniles get to their senses and grow-up out of crime, though he said he estimates 8-10% will stay in crime for life.

Violent crime is up 9.4 percent, averaging around two a day. Flynn stated aggravated assault, which is up 33.1 percent, is “clearly responsible” for the increase in violent crime.

Most aggravated assaults were crimes where the victim knew the assailant, and the majority of the crimes were domestic violence.

Robbery and burglary have both decreased, 13.2 percent and 4.3 percent, respectively, said Flynn. Flynn called both “stranger crimes,” stressing the most common crimes in 2012 were highly concentrated to a certain lifestyle, while law-abiding citizens didn’t have as much to worry about.

Though there has been a large increase in juvenile crime and aggravated assaults, there was overall a 0.8 percent decrease in crime in 2012.

Alderman Terry Witkowski ended the meeting by commending Flynn and the MPD’s “tremendous job at combating this [crime] issue, realizing limited funds.”