Big Investigation and Audio

Milwaukee police department under manned

CREATED Oct 6, 2011 - UPDATED: Oct 6, 2011

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MILWAUKEE- A Newsradio 620 investigation has discovered that the Milwaukee Police Department is well below the force level authorized by the Milwaukee Common Council. And some leaders believe that is putting anyone who lives, works or play in Milwaukee in danger.

I obtained the most recent Milwaukee Police Department Vacancy Report. It is for the pay period beginning July 24, 2011 and ending August 6, 2011. The report shows that the Milwaukee Police Department is authorized to fill 2,042 law enforcement positions. The actual number of positions filled is 1868. That means there are 174 positions that are not filled. Those are police officers that respond to 9-1-1 calls. Those are detectives that investigate crimes. They are men and women that search for missing children or speak to school groups.

Let's take a deeper look.

According to the Vacancy Report, the department is currently down 106 police officers. The force is down 47 detectives. The department is also down forensic investigators, alarm operators, and Lieutenants. There are less Captains, Sergeants, and Police ID personnel than those approved by the Milwaukee Common Council.

Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan thinks it's ridiculous. "We have many neighborhoods in Milwaukee that are right on the brink of heading the wrong direction. Things are not going well. How can we have this severe shortage of sworn officers?"

When I asked Donovan why Police Chief Ed Flynn doesn't fill the positions, he seemed puzzled. "I had never seen a Chief who will not fight for more men and women on the street, until I saw this Chief. He just won't do it. He won't fill the ranks." Donovan went on, "We have so much crime in some of these neighborhoods, that even filling half of these slots would make our neighborhoods safer."

The Milwaukee Police Department is also authorized to hire 869 civilian employees. The same Vacancy Report shows there are currently 602 civilian employees in the department. This is important to recognize for two reasons. First, these civilians do many of the things that impact you when you deal with the police department. They prepare reports, answer phones, and deal with the public. When there are less of them, there is a longer wait for some police services. The second reason may be more important. A source told me that with the shortage of civilian workers, officers are forced to do some tasks that take them away from actual law enforcement duties.

Alderman Donovan is also quick to point out that all of this comes on the heels of Mayor Tom Barrett's 2010 city budget. In that budget the Mayor succeeded in eliminating 100 Police Department Positions. If you do the math on that, it really means that the department is down 274 positions. "We are in a position in this city where we need every available resource deployed to battle crime. We're not getting that."

I was told both Mayor Barrett and Chief Flynn were unavailable for comment.