Saturday, February 2, 2008

Maybe now Milwaukee will turn up the heat on the thugs

Former Milwaukee police chief Nan Hegarty disciplined a police commander who encouraged his officers to "turn up the heat" on "the thugs" in his district.

Maybe she should have listened to Glenn Frankovis instead of bowing to political pressure because while the politicians fiddled, Milwaukee continues to burn.

The latest inferno is the senseless robbery and murder of a Miller beer executive by reputed Latin Kings.

Miguel A. Ayala, 21, Carlos Gonzalez, 17, and Irene Rodriguez, 16, were charged in connection with the killing of Lodewikus "Vic" Milford, who was Miller's director of compensation and benefits.

Ayala was charged with party to the crime of first-degree intentional homicide while armed, Gonzalez was charged with felony murder, and Rodriguez was charged with reckless homicide, party to a crime.

Milford was killed early last Saturday after being robbed near S. 2nd and W. Walker streets. The criminal complaint shows utterly no remorse on the part of the conspirators, two of whom wanted Milwaukee Bucks' tickets taken from the victim.

Ed Flynn, Milwaukee's new police chief, promised to turn up the heat on the Latin Kings, something that should have been done long ago.

Of course, there are some detractors, like the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel's resident apologist, Eugene Kane, who writes that the perception is worse than reality. Predictably, Kane ends with what turns out to have a good grain of truth: "Some readers have pointed out - again - that people don't get as upset about a death in the central city as they do about a murder in Walker's Point. I submit that until murders in Walker's Point happen with the same frequency as they do in the central city, the ratio of attention will never be fair."

Eugene has a point. Every murder should be viewed as a senseless tragedy.

That said, the politicians must do more than talk about it.

Governor Jim Doyle, who laid off 15 prosecutors despite a massive statewide shortage, should get the legislature on board to create special violent crimes courts and prosecutors for southeast Wisconsin. These efforts should be supported by additional dedicated crime lab staff, investigators and even public defenders whose goal should be prompt and accurate justice.

And Mayor Tom Barrett needs to bite the bullet and outdo Glen Frankovis: the heat should be turned up on the thugs 24/7/365, period.

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