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John Mercure: Mercurey Rising

Is Chief Flynn Cooking the Books?

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Is the Milwaukee Police Chief cooking the books? We don't know. If the Chief believes he has really been wronged he could go a long way toward helping make his case. Part of the reason we don't know if MPD is cooking the books is because the Chief continues to refuse to release information and evidence that could shed additional light on this topic. And what makes this particularly disheartening, but not surprising, is the fact that the Chief's staff has promised me the info. That was a week ago and I am still waiting. I am still waiting.

A little bit of background: The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel did an investigation looking at Milwaukee Police Department crime statistics. The newspaper discovered 500 cases where an aggravated assault was classified as a simple assault.  Aggravated assaults are considered violent crimes. Simple assaults are not. That means that fewer violent crimes are being correctly reported and recorded.  Instead they are being down-coded. This allows the Chief to say that crime continues to drop. The newspaper believes there may be at least 800 more cases of the MPD improperly coding and reporting aggravated assaults.  The police department now wants to do what they didn't do with the newspaper's other Open Record Requests; charge them a fortune. The charge is $10,000  The MPD says that's to pay for all the work it will take to fulfill the request.  I can guarantee you this; if the newspaper had been reporting that there were up-coding mistakes that indicated the violent crime rate was going down, there would be no additional charge. The paper would already have the reports.

So the Chief holds a news conference and attacks the reporter who did the investigation, Ben Poston. He even went so far as to say that Poston was aware of up-coding mistakes. He says Poston knew of cases where a simple assault was classified as an aggravated assault. He called Poston out by name.

I immediately reached out to the Chief though his spokeswoman. She told me that he would come on our show to discus the up-coding allegation further.  She also told me that she would get me specific examples of what Ben Poston knew and when.

Ben Poston vehemently denies that he knew or knows of any up-coding errors. He says he found none.  The only errors he claims he uncovered were violent crimes that were down-coded to non-violent offenses.  The Chief has yet to get me even one example of what Poston knew yet refused to report.

 If the Chief can not produce the examples, he has smeared Poston. A rather peculiar strategy for a guy who is constantly complaining that his department is being smeared.



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