ON-Lion Letter
In a March episode of the Manhattan Institute's 10 Blocks podcast, George L. Kelling discusses his new book Policing in Milwaukee:  A Strategic History with City Journal editor Brian Anderson.  Kelling is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, which is substantially supported by Milwaukee's Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, and an emeritus professor at Rutgers University.  Bradley also supported his work on Policing in Milwaukee, from Marquette University Press.

From the 1930s to the 1950s, Milwaukee native Kelling tells Anderson, "the police began to use cars" and "there was no awareness at the time of exactly what that would mean in terms of policing not just Milwaukee but any city.  And the most dramatic outcome was that it removed police from any familiarity with neighborhoods and communities and it isolated police."  

The '50s and '60s "were also years of rapid social change, and in the name of urban renewal, in the name of highway construction, and in the name of integrating schools, etc.," Kelling continues, "it was an era of massive social change and many of the neighborhoods were broken down ....  Milwaukee started, along with most other cities at that time, a movement towards increase crime, but also antagonism developed between police and ... African American citizens that really lasted up until the current scene.

"[T]o restructure the relationship between communities and the police," he goes on, one of the first things that current Milwaukee police chief Edward A. Flynn "did was to refocus around a geographic orientation.

"In the past," according to Kelling, "police departments were built around algorithms to reduce response time.  Instead, community policing emphasizes building police departments around natural neighborhoods, and so that you work with neighborhoods to develop their strength.  So that was one of the key elements of any community policing attempt and the second most important thing apart from the geography is that you move away from just enforcing the law after a crime happens to preventing crime before it occurs.  And I think these are the two key elements.  It's geographically oriented and the focus is on preventing crime."

Kelling says Flynn, "from the very beginning I think, in terms of working with the communities, was very frank about the very nature of the problems in Milwaukee and that was serious crime and victimization was located in the African American community. ...  I think that that has had enormous pay off in terms of the decline of the antagonism of the relationship, signified by the decline of complaints against" the police department.
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