About . . . . . . Classes . . . . . . Books . . . . . . Vita . . . . . . . Links. . . . . . Blog

by Peter Moskos

February 27, 2017

Milwaukee Chief Flynn: "We can predict who's going to get shot. We do. If we could only predict where and when, we'd be doing a great job. We can't do that."

[See my previous post on Ed Flynn.]

Flynn isn't new at this.

A few years back, Flynn was answering questions about a controversial police-involved shooting. At a community meeting, some criticized him for being "disrespectful," because he was on his phone. His response is well worth watching.

The cop involved in that shooting was later fired. Officers voted Flynn a nearly unanimous vote of no-confidence. Like I said, he gets it from all sides. He must be doing something right.

But crime is up in Milwaukee, and here he is talking about police backing off (at 7:16).

Later is that same interview he talks about deadly violence, and it's worth quoting at length (at 8:28):
We need to focus on the fact that it's a finite group of people. There aren't ten-thousand run-amok criminals out there. There's a finite number of people who have prior arrests for weapons possession or other violent crimes overwhelmingly shooting people like them.

And unfortunately the system doesn't act like a system.
There are a lot of other variables out there, and so far most of them have escaped accountability.
No matter where you start looking at the co-location of victimization in this city or any city like us, every single negative social indicator is in the same place where the dead bodies are. There are a lot of moving pieces to the problem. Many of our most violent offenders have been identified at early times in their careers by both the juvenile justice system or even by the schools. We know the statistics: how many children exposed to violence end up replicating the violence; how many children that were the victims child abuse or physical abuse will replicate that behavior later on; how many of our most violent offenders committed their first violence when they were young juveniles.

The data is there to focus resources on those with the most potential for violence. When we do network analysis we constantly find out that there's 20 percent of our homicide victims in any given year have been witnesses or involved in other shootings and homicides. We can predict who's going to get shot. We do. If we could only predict where and when, we'd be doing a great job. We can't do that. We can do a network analysis, we give you the names of ten people in the next 18 months, at least six of them will be shot. The challenge is there's no one to parse any of this information off to. Probation and parole are broken. Juvenile courts are broken. Nobody visits these folks at home except the police.

So there are challenges out there. They are not simplistic. There are things that need to be done on the front end with young children that will pay dividends in years, and they need to start now. Same token, there's more than most be done with young offenders. I'm not saying they all need to go to jail. But if they get neither services nor sanctions, why should their immature brains think something is going to happen to them when they turn 18 or 19? Time and again we see it. We keep grinding out the data. Other actors have to start stepping up. It's going to cost money, but that's what we pay taxes for.
[Comments are open on my similarly themed previous post on Flynn.]