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Chief Edward A. Flynn’s Ten Year Retrospective

The Milwaukee Police Department published a 69 page document reviewing the decade of Edward A. Flynn as Chief of Police. Highlights included excerpts from his first term Oath of Office in 2008, and his achievements of reducing crime in the city under his leadership. Outreach programs and public campaigns, along with crime statistics were also featured. Chief Flynn wrote this introduction for the retrospective. A copy of it can be downloaded from the included link. The video is from Chief Flynn’s January 8 press conference, where he announced his retirement to the public.

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As I typed the heading, I found it hard to believe that ten years had passed since I first took the oath of office as Milwaukee’s eighteenth police chief. Of the seventy-nine American and Canadian members of the Major Cities Chiefs Association, only three have longer tenures as chief of their departments.

I have become the fifth longest-serving chief in the MPD’s one hundred and sixty-two year history and the first, since the institution of terms of office, to be reappointed. I became a police officer nearly forty-seven years ago. I have served as a police chief executive for thirty of those years. Becoming Chief in Milwaukee was the fulfillment of a career dream.

I promised the residents of this city when I was first sworn in that, “I will not let you down.” I have done my professional best to fulfill that promise. The purpose of this report is to document my tenure. These years have been characterized by dramatic changes to the Milwaukee Police Department. Here, for the first time, they are presented in one place. This is an attempt to create an historical record of those changes.

This document, A Ten Year Retrospective 2008 – 2018, is not meant to be a history of the Milwaukee Police Department during these ten years. Major incidents are presented that represent the work of the MPD or that resulted in operational and training improvements. But primarily it focuses on the implementation, management, and institutionalization of organizational change.

Change is hard, no matter how necessary or desired. Over five hundred years ago, the original political scientist, Niccolo Machiavelli observed, “It must be considered that there is nothing more difficult to carry out, nor more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to handle, than to institute a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order. Thus it arises that on every opportunity for attacking the reformer, his opponents do so with the zeal of partisans, the others only defend him half-heartedly, so that between them he runs great danger.”

Ironically, in my experience, demands for change, and the ensuing reforms, often, years later, result in demands for reforms of the reforms. Yesterday’s innovation becomes today’s status-quo, it seems, as the political environment is ever-changing.

But the important point is this: the Milwaukee Police Department has achieved a level of excellence acknowledged by federal agencies, academic partners and peer agencies documented by the numerous awards and recognition it has received. It has had a dramatic impact on crime while retaining broad grassroots support. Citizen complaints and uses of force are at all-time lows. By any objective standard, it is a model agency.

I have been privileged to be the leader of this fine agency and proud of my role in its evolution. But the credit for all of its accomplishments belong to its members, officers and civilians, who have made everything possible, who have had great ideas, who have developed the operational plans, who have adjusted, who have taken the physical risks and who have connected with communities in every part of the city.

The men and women of the Milwaukee Police Department deserve the respect and support of those they protect and serve because they have earned it. This city should be proud of its sons and daughters and proud that it raised men and women noble in spirit animated by a desire to serve. It is to them I dedicate this record and to them I extend my profound gratitude and admiration.

Edward A. Flynn, Milwaukee Chief of Police

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