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Chief Flynn: "Most Violent Period in 5+ Years"

Vincent Desjardins, Flickr

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn was among a group of chiefs of police who met with US Attorney General Eric Holder this week to discuss a surge in youth violence.

The meeting came on the heels of a session involving mayors - including Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett - and President Obama on the subject.

"Usually," Flynn says, "when we have one of those meetings, they invite us there allegedly to hear from us, and then they lecture us about something they want to do.  There was no lecture at the end of this."

And so Flynn says he came to the meeting with a key message to deliver.  "There's an awful lot of talk about disparity as a result of police tactics," he says.  "Like field interviews, car stops, or arrests for felony crimes.  The point it, these disparities exactly mirror the grotesque disparity in victimization experienced by poor communities of color in the central cities of the United States."

In Milwaukee, the meeting came as the city copes with an outbreak of violence - murders and non-fatal shootings have surged this summer.

"There's no unitary explanation for it," Flynn says.  "We've had a wide variety of homicides - it's not like I can say 'this gang is fighting this gang.'  No - we've had domestic homicides, child abuse homicides, random explosion of road rage homicides, bar fight homicides - every kind of homicide we could have."

And Flynn renewed his call for increased state funding - a half-million dollars - to hire more police officers.  That call was initially met by skepticism from some state lawmakers, such as Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Governor Scott Walker, who worried that the request could open a floodgate of request from other police departments around Wisconsin.

But Flynn says he's optimistic that legislators will see the progress being made in Wisconsin, and will come around to the idea of additional funding.

"Believe me, if there’s any other cities in Wisconsin right now with 65 homicides, I’m happy to share the money – I’ll split it with them," Flynn says. "But I don’t think you’re going to get those requests from anybody else, because nobody else is facing the vortex of social and crime problems that this city has to confront."