ON-Lion Letter

"[A]s we look at both the police shooting phenomenon and the increase in homicides in our major cities, you can't disaggregate these two phenomenon," Milwaukee police chief Edward Flynn said in a September appearance on Fox News Sunday.  "And I think there's a number of variables at work that we might be able to discuss later that have to do with us being at some sort of tipping point.

"We're not sure if we've got a spike or a real tipping point and a change phenomenon," continued Flynn, a practitioner of the "broken-windows" theory of policing.  "But there are some concerning issues.  And one of them is the relentless propaganda war being waged against American police officers by our network television stations.  It's been most distressing to watch them try to link six or eight questionable video recordings of police misconduct and turn that into a national narrative of what the state of police community relations are.  It's a false construct, but it is a dangerous one.

"I think one of the great myths is there is some dramatic breakdown in trust between the people at the grassroots level and the police," he later added.  "It's a canard.  You know, every time there's a critical incident involving the police, some self-styled activist that I've never met before or ever seen at a community meeting is suddenly all over the TV running their mouth off against racist oppression in the police department. 

"If you can get 40 people at the demonstration, I can guarantee you four TV cameras and a news helicopter," he went on.  "But the reality is, day after day after day, our coppers are in those neighborhoods not just literally protecting people with their lives, but in the meetings, organizing communities, listening to problems and providing the services they want. 

"What we have is the historical challenge of the neighborhoods and communities that need quality policing.  Most for historic reasons have been harboring some level of distrust.  At the grass-roots level, those relationships are much, much healthier than any national network would have you believe."

The "broken-windows" theory was first formulated by Bradley Prize recipient James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling -- a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, which is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation.  Bradley also supported Kelling's work on his newly released book Policing in Milwaukee:  A Strategic History.

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