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Milwaukee Chief Says More than Police are Needed to Address City's Soaring Homicide Numbers

Milwaukee's latest homicide victim is a 13-year-old boy. He was shot to death early Wednesday morning, in his home near Lincoln Park. Police say they are searching for a known suspect. The boy's death brings the number of homicides in the city so far this year to 83, nearly the total for all of 2014.

Police Chief Edward Flynn says the problems and solutions are not simple, but it is possible to identify many people who need intervention because they are a highly-concentrated population.

“There aren’t 10,000 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," Flynn says.

And Flynn says the MPD almost knows what will eventually happen.

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

The chief says many of the dead and wounded are young African-American men. Most offenders and victims have significant criminal records, and many of those involved have extensive needs.

“Nobody visits these folks at home, except the police,” Flynn says.

Flynn says there’s no question that urban police have backed away from proactive policing in recent times, but he does not think the change is the cause of this year’s escalating homicide numbers. Milwaukee is far from the only city watching its murder rate climb. The chief insists something broader is happening, and communities need more than police presence to address the catalysts.

“There are things that need to be done on the front end with young children that’ll pay dividends in years, and they need to start now. By the same token, there is more that must be done with young offenders. The challenge right now, is it can’t simply be the police and frightened neighbors peering out behind locked doors, working together,” Flynn says.

Flynn says more indigenous leaders must step up, and the community must be prepared to pay the cost of addressing its ills.

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