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Milwaukee Police Chief Flynn Says Officers Should Be Afforded Benefit of the Doubt

LaToya Dennis
Milwaukee Police Ed Flynn says the easy thing to do is to continue to deaminize police officers across the country

Being a police officer in today’s climate is a difficult job, according to Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn. 

On Thursday, he spoke to journalists and members of the public at an event the Milwaukee Press Club sponsored. Flynn told the crowd that officers need to be given the benefit of the doubt.

Across the country, police departments are coming under fire for what some people believe to be excessive force, particularly against black men. In recent years, officers have fatally shot a number of unarmed black men, including here in Milwaukee. Chief Edward Flynn says officers are being asked to intervene in complex, volatile social situations and often with insufficient information.

“We would ask people accord our officers today the same presumptions they offer our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s amazing to me that all our soldiers, as long as they wear olive drab, but as soon as they put on blue, they’re suspects. We’ve bombed hospitals by accident, we’ve dropped mortar rounds on our friends, we’ve shot unarmed villagers, it’s the fog of war,” Flynn says.

Flynn calls America the most heavily-armed industrial society on earth, and with some of the most challenged neighborhoods. And he says African Americans in Milwaukee face some of the most-dire statistics in the country. According to the chief, the homicide rate for African Americans in Milwaukee is 139 per 1,000 people, that’s compared to 4 per 1,000 people nationwide.

“We’re all sincere in policing when we say to the Black Lives Matter movement, can you imagine the impact if I could mobilize consistently on the street to say do something about this freaking Holocaust of violence in my community. I want the system to respond. I want the state to respond. I want the federal government involved,” Flynn says.

Flynn says the easy way out is to continuously demonize police officers.

Regarding the police killing of Sylville Smith last month – which sparked unrest in Sherman Park, the chief says he will not release the body camera video, until he gets an OK from the DA and the state attorney general. Flynn warns that body camera video can be inconclusive. And he says no matter what the video shows, there are going to be people who will continue to believe what they want.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.
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