Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chief Flynn needs to resign

At first it was hard not to like Milwaukee's Police Chief, Ed Flynn.  New strategies brought down the murder rate while officer morale significantly improved.  Most of the community embraced him so well that his romantic indiscretions with a married journalist resulted in little more than a yawn and he stayed on the job.

I long respected how Chief Flynn would fully, immediately and publicly back his officers when they were right.  It was the right thing to do.  So was his promise that, "If we mess up, we 'fess up."

But now the chief seems to have forgotten that promise.  Police response times are lagging, yet he offeres puffery and excuses.  A recent Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel series uncovered serious police discipline issues. 

With over 30 years of law enforcement experience behind my belt I can safely say it's proper to back officers when they're right but it's also necessary act decisely when their misconduct threatens public safety or erodes the respect due good officers.  Instead of discussing his department's performance with respect to weeding out the bad apples Chief Flynn declined to talk to the media.

The straw that broke the camel's back is the arrest of an openly credentialed newspaper photographer doing her job and not violating any laws.  Chief Flynn blindly backed the officer involved -- saying the officer didn't know se was a member of the working media -- and then tried to soft-pedal things when Mayor Tom Barrett publicly disagreed after seeing photographic evidence (see photo above) that the photographer's media pass was clearly visible.  Flynn suggested a meeting with media representative to discuss differences.  Not a bad idea but not enough.

The man who promised to "'fess up" when the police "mess up" failed to do that.  He's destroyed his own credibility and damaged that of his department.  He should resign.