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Video of Derek Williams murder realeased.

After learning a 22-year-old man’s death in police custody had been revised to homicide, a group of leaders met Sunday night to brainstorm ways to mount a community response.

The Journal Sentinel reported Sunday that the Milwaukee County medical examiner’s office has revised its ruling on the death of Derek Williams, who died in Milwaukee police custody in July 2011, from natural to homicide, according to the district attorney’s office. The decision came after the Journal Sentinel alerted an assistant medical examiner to newly released records.

If Williams had gotten immediate medical attention, he would not have died in the backseat of a squad car while Milwaukee police officers ignored his pleas for help, James Hall, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, said Sunday.

Hall and about a dozen other civil rights and community leaders gathered Sunday at All Peoples Lutheran Church on N. 2nd St. to discuss the death.

“Our city needs healing,” said the Rev. Steve Jerbi, pastor of All Peoples.

The group urged everyone in the community to watch the video from the squad car camera showing officers disregarding Williams for more than 7 minutes as he writhes around gasping for air.

In making his initial determination of natural death more than a year ago, Assistant Medical Examiner Christopher Poulos did not review all of the police reports or a squad video recently obtained by the newspaper.

The video shows a handcuffed Williams, his eyes rolled back, gasping for breath and begging for help in the back seat of a Milwaukee police car as officers ignore his pleas. The police reports include key details about Williams’ arrest that the medical examiner didn’t know.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett plans to review the video Monday, said Pat Curley, Barrett’s chief of staff.

“If there is new evidence coming to light and new evidence to be considered, the mayor wants to see that happen,” Curley said.

As a result of the new ruling, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm has reopened the investigation into whether criminal charges are warranted against any of the officers involved. In an earlier interview with the Journal Sentinel, Chisholm emphasized that the revised finding does not mean a crime was committed.

Attorney Jonathan Safran, who represents Williams’ long-term girlfriend and their three young children, said Chisholm’s office should not be the one to investigate this case.

Chisholm, the Police Department and the Fire and Police Commission previously had cleared the officers of wrongdoing, largely based on the medical examiner’s earlier ruling of natural death.

Safran is calling on the U.S. attorney’s office to take the case.

He said he receives calls daily from people who claim they have been victims of excessive force by the police department and the issue doesn’t get appropriately addressed.

Williams’ case is among the worst he’s had, Safran said.

“The video is one of the most troubling things I have ever seen,” he said. “It’s simply unconscionable to watch what happens in the back of that squad car.”

James Santelle, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, did not returncalls Sunday seeking comment.

In a statement, Milwaukee police Chief Edward Flynn said he did not expect any officers to be criminally charged as a result of the new ruling.

Williams, who had gotten out of jail after being arrested on municipal warrants for loitering, vandalism and assault, fled from police after attempting to rob a couple near the intersection of N. Holton and E. Center streets, according to the reports.

His death shows that change is needed in Milwaukee, said Keith Bailey of Milwaukee Matters, a local nonprofit advocacy group.

Citizens need to let elected officials know: “We can’t take this anymore,” Bailey said. “We will not allow another person to perish the way that Derek Williams Jr. perished in the back of a police cruiser.”

Posted in General.

Waukesha County restricts jail visitation hours

Waukesha – Waukesha County Sheriff Dan Trawicki has discontinued visitation at the county jail on Monday through Thursday nights, affecting attorneys visiting their clients and the general public seeking to visit a jailed family member or friend.

Sheriff’s Inspector Eric Severson said the move was made as a cost-saving measure – one of several proposed for the 2013 budget that will help the department meet its tax levy target from the county executive. A three-month survey of visits shows that more than 50% of the time, there’s one or fewer visitors during that period, Severson told the Criminal Justice Collaborating Council on Monday.

Jail Administrator Michael Giese said because a clerical position was vacant – the person who greets the public, makes certain they have proper credentials and links up the video visitation – the department decided to keep it vacant rather than lay a new employee off.

Visitation effective at the start of this month is from 7:30 to 11 a.m. and 12:30 to 4 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. On Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays, visitation continues from 5:30 to 9 p.m.

“It’s going fine,” Giese said, adding that there have been no complaints so far.

The change in hours could be an inconvenience for attorneys who sometimes see their clients on the night before court hearings, especially when clients are delivered for appearances from state prisons. However, Severson said attorney-client visits may require better planning by attorneys or mean they’ll have to visit their clients in state correctional facilities.

Posted in General.

WTF: Prostitute who killed john over kiss sentenced

This is an unbelievable miss on our part, a man promise a women drugs and tries to rape her, she responds by choking him to death and is serving 20 years. WTF.

A 19-year-old woman who strangled a man because he repeatedly tried to kiss her during a prostitution encounter last fall was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison.

Precious Dupriest pleaded guilty to first degree reckless homicide in the death of Billy W. Murray, 63, who was found naked with red suspenders wound around his neck in a room at the Village Inn, 3001 W. Wisconsin Ave., on Oct. 18, 2011.

Her attorney said events that night became “a perfect storm” for the violent reaction, after a life full of trauma for Dupriest that included early abandonment, violent sexual abuse and drug addiction.

She had been charged with first degree intentional homicide but pleaded guilty to first degree reckless homicide. In exchange, prosecutors agreed to recommend a sentence of no more than 20 years. In addition to the 18 years, she will serve another 10 years on extended supervision.

Police tracked down Dupriest from video that showed her leaving the hotel in Murray’s car, which she later traded to someone for $50. She told detectives Murray had picked her up on the street and asked she wanted to get high and have sex.

The two went to the Village Inn and smoked $40 of crack when Murray started trying to kiss her, she told investigators, an act she found “disgusting.” When he persisted, she choked him to unconsciousness, then strangled him with a pair of red suspenders to make sure he was dead.

In court Friday, the victim’s family asked Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Ellen Brostrom for 60 years. Dupriest “put out the light,” that was his brother’s life, said Thomas Murray. More than a dozen family and friends, from several states, came to court, and many more sent letters about Murray, the judge indicated.

Dupriest’s father also appeared. Robert Bartleson apologized to his daughter for not being a better father to her, then told Brostrom how he had battled crack addiction himself and left his family when Precious was just 2 to move to Arkansas.

After he cleaned up his own life, he said, he tried repeatedly to have Precious live with him and his wife in Arkansas but said he met resistance from social workers waiting for Precious’ mother to overcome her own drug problems.

Dupriest said she hates herself for what she’s done, but is currently sober after 342 days in jail and has learned from her mistakes.

“I just ask that you please have mercy,” she told Brostrom.

The judge noted Dupriest’s sincere remorse, young age and traumatic childhood, and the altered state while high on crack, but said the seriousness of the crime, and huge loss to Murray’s family demanded a serious prison term.

Brostrom called Dupriest’s two dozen foster care placements “an absolute travesty,” but told Dupriest she could find redemption even in a prison term, because when it’s done she will have paid her debt to society and be able to “turn the page” and move on with a better sense of self worth and years of treatment and education.

Posted in General.

Friends never let them dominate you

On the morning of september 19th we smashed out 1 window of the US Bank in downtown milwaukee to express a love and admiration we have for a recently arrested comrade
Sorry it could not be more
What we share for each other is nothing next to our hatred for order

With respect
An anti-social social club

Posted in General.

Another 26 UWM Students Picked Up over Weekend in Police Crackdown

After nabbing 25 in an initial crackdown near the campus Sept. 8, Milwaukee police continued its operation last weekend aimed at curtailing drunken and disorderly behavior from college students.

In the an ongoing police operation aimed at curbing loud partying near the campus, 26 University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee students, 40 people total, were arrested over the weekend.

The majority of the arrests were for underage drinking. Others were taken into police custody for excessive noise, disorderly conduct, public drinking, obstruction of justice and vandalism.

Milwaukee and UWM police launched the operation Sept. 8, in response to area resident complaints of drunken and disorderly behavior from college students, police say. Twenty-five students were arrested that weekend, 41 total.

Milwaukee police say they “are sending a strong message to the community that this enforcement mission will not only help rid the neighborhoods of crime and disorder, but also creates an awareness by the student population that intoxicated persons frequently become the victims of violent crime.”

Posted in General.

MPD, UWM police operation nets 39 arrests Saturday

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee police have announced 39 arrests related to an operation between the Milwaukee Police Department and UW-Milwaukee police. Police intensified their presence on the east side near UWM following resident complaints of drunken and disorderly behavior.

The results of the enforcement for the evening of Saturday, September 8th are as follows, according to Milwaukee police: 39 persons arrested with 41 individual charges written.

Of the 39 arrested, 25 were UWM students. Those arrested were surprised to learn they would not just be issued citations, but were taken downtown and booked. At least six of those arrested are UWM student athletes.

The breakdown of charges is as follows:

Excessive Noise – 11
Disorderly Conduct – 4
Underage Possession/Drinking – 22
Obstructing – 3
Public Drinking – 1

MPD, together with UWM Police, held a “Roll Call in the Street” Saturday to share a message of safety and partnership as students return to the UWM area and its surrounding neighborhoods.

Milwaukee police say they are working to address any issues and to return the neighborhoods to those who deserve to live there free from crime, fear and disorder.

“Saturday they did have a bigger presence, and we did have a quieter night. Unbelievable disrespect sometimes. You can have your fun and not wake up the whole neighborhood doing it,” neighbor Phyllis Talarczyk said.

Talarczyk says it’s tough for her and her five-year-old daughter to sleep at night. Talarzczyk says dealing with the noise and parties is the cost of urban living. She’s just hoping after the MPD roll call this weekend and the arrests Saturday night, the costs will be less steep for everyone involved.

“(The area) has a lot of advantages, it just has its ugly side. It’s just sad they have to go to extremes and spend so much time and money when it’s all about just being respectful,” Talarzczyk said.

Police say it’s these types of quality-of-life issues they are trying to address.

FOX6 News spoke with an individual at a home where one of 11 excessive noise violations took place.

“I didn’t go to jail, but my roommate did. I felt it was all like a scare tactic for some reason. We probably had like 20 people over here, but it wasn’t a 70-person kegger rager kind of thing,” the student told FOX6 News.

This student says MPD targeting college parties could be considered a waste of resources.

“It’s Saturday night. Shouldn’t you be out trying to find drunk drivers?” the UWM student said.

UWM officials recently told FOX6 News they do extensive work educating students about respect for neighbors and did not believe off-campus disturbances were up from a year ago. They say they will continue to work with MPD to address any concerns.

Posted in General.

Police say they will bring order to UWM area

Prompted by what some east side residents call increasingly bad student conduct, Milwaukee police on Saturday vowed a crackdown against drunken misbehavior near the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.

Chief Edward Flynn announced the effort with a roll call in the street – a symbolic effort he has used to unveil police efforts. This one was on E. Newberry Blvd. and N. Cramer St., where residents have said the loud parties and drunken shenanigans have hit an intolerable level.

Steve Weinstein, who works in the health care industry, said he came home early from work Friday because he was wiped out after getting so little sleep the night before, thanks to a rowdy student party.

“I have lived here for 27 years and this is the worst I have seen it,” he said.

Flynn said the neighborhood is afflicted by “adult-looking individuals who have no common sense.” The goal is to protect the area from drunken students and protect the students from becoming crime victims, he said.

“It’s a challenge because everybody you can put in this circumstance are sure they are smarter than you and have very important parents,” Flynn said. “We are going to educate them in the ways of citizenship.”

Charles Martin, 19, who lives in the area and attends the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, said Flynn was insulting.

“We are wise fools with no common sense? It is a bit extreme,” Martin said. “I wonder how many crimes are being committed while (officers) have been standing out here.”

Ald. Nik Kovac said he was glad that UWM police will be part of the effort but said the university needs to do more.

Capt. Steve Basting, commander of the city’s District 1, said the efforts would start with education and warnings and graduate to arrests.

“We are here to give these neighborhoods back to the people who live here,” he said.

Posted in General.

Milwaukee police officer shot during struggle with suspect

MILWAUKEE – A Milwaukee police officer was shot in the leg during a struggle with a suspect near N. 21st St. and W. Hampton Ave. early Friday morning, the Milwaukee Police Department said.

Officers responded to a call of shots fired around midnight and investigators say the officers found two suspects and those suspects immediately started arguing with those officers.

At some point during the struggle, the officer was shot in the leg. Police say the officer’s injuries are not believed to be life-threatening.

“Our investigation shows the suspect while armed with the weapon of Milwaukee police officer discharged the weapon one time striking the officer in the leg,” said Milwaukee Police Assistant Chief Patrick Mitchell during a press conference Friday.

The two suspects in custody are 24- and 39-years-old and both have arrest records.

Their family claims that the officers attacked them and that one of those officers accidentally shot himself. They say cell phone video taken of the incident corroborates these claims.

“The police actually have my son down on the ground,” said Jacqueline Cole, who is the mother of the 24-year-old suspect and the sister of the 39-year-old suspect. “He was not resisting arrest. From what the videotape shows is how the police started beating him in the head.”

Cole said her sister-in-law shot the video but claims officers made her surrender the phone.

“They’re trying to give everyone the perception that because these two were resisting arrest that it resulted in the officer getting shot,” she said.

The Milwaukee Police Department vehemently denies Cole’s allegations. “I will not comment specially on what the video shows,” said Mitchell.

Posted in General.

Juries clear two Milwaukee police officers in separate cases

Federal juries in Milwaukee have found in favor of two Milwaukee police officers in separate civil rights cases.

A jury on Friday found in favor of police officer David Martinez, who fatally shot David Boone in January 2007. Police said Boone had tried to grab Martinez’s gun in an altercation in the 2800 block of N. 49th St.

Boone, a basketball coach, had been charged with sexual assault of a child a week before the shooting. He was wanted on a warrant, according to state court records.

In a separate case, a jury found in favor of officer James Jekanoski earlier this month. Robert Stokes sued Jekanoski, alleging the officer hit him in the head with a gun during a search of a suspected drug house in 2007. Stokes was later convicted of drug dealing, being a felon in possession of a gun and mistreating an animal.

Posted in General.

Police response times lag as patrol strategy shifts

Read me

Jim and Jean Lustig were less than a mile from home on the night of June 16 when a Chevy Lumina sedan slammed into their car on Milwaukee’s far northwest side.

An 82-year-old lung cancer survivor, Jim Lustig began complaining of chest pains after the collision at N. 91st St. and W. Bradley Road. He would die two days later at Froedtert Hospital from injuries suffered in the crash.

Milwaukee firefighters and paramedics arrived about five minutes after receiving the 911 call.

But it took Milwaukee police more than two hours to respond to the crash – despite repeated requests from the Milwaukee Fire Department for assistance, police and fire department records show.

By then, crash victims had been taken to area hospitals, while witnesses and firefighters had left the scene. It wasn’t until two days after the crash that police met two key witnesses at the scene in an attempt to reconstruct what happened.

The delayed response to the fatal crash is part of a larger trend of Milwaukee police responding to calls more slowly, the Journal Sentinel has found.

Average police response time to calls for service was slower last year than before Police Chief Edward Flynn took over in January 2008, the newspaper’s review of Milwaukee police data shows.

Compared with 2007 figures, police response lagged in 13 of 15 major call categories – only responses to shooting and theft from a vehicle were faster.

For example, it took police 15 minutes longer on average in 2010 to dispatch a squad car to calls for theft, more than seven additional minutes for strong-arm robberies and six minutes longer for calls for sexual assault. And those delays don’t include the additional time it took squads to get to a crime scene.

Once dispatched, the time it took squads to arrive at the highest priority calls – such as shootings or armed robberies in progress – got slower by a minute and a half over that time, records show. It took police an average of almost 14 minutes to arrive at those calls last year.

The department now assigns more squad cars to proactive policing efforts rather than responding to emergency calls, a strategy Flynn says has helped drive down the city’s crime rate. But that shift often results in a slower response.

In a recent case, Milwaukee police took more than 45 minutes to get to a fatal stabbing in Riverwest on July 30, even though it was considered a top priority call and the caller told a dispatcher that she committed the violent act. Dora M. Simmons, 51, faces up to 10 years in prison after she was charged with stabbing her boyfriend in the chest in the 3800 block of N. Humboldt Blvd., according to the criminal complaint.

And in another example uncovered by the Journal Sentinel, Milwaukee police were unable to make arrests in an armed robbery case at a north side beauty salon in fall 2009 – after it took officers more than a half-hour to arrive at the scene.

In the case of the fatal crash, a quicker police response wouldn’t necessarily have saved Jim Lustig’s life, but the two-hour delay may have hampered investigators’ ability to hold anyone accountable for his death.

“Where were the police?” said son James Lustig Jr. of Sussex. “We are just looking for answers.”
Declining crime

During Flynn’s tenure, the Police Department has reported continued declines in crime numbers.

Besides burglary, which is down 1%, every violent and property crime category has dropped by double digits since 2007, department records show.

Meanwhile, clearance rates – the rate at which police clear crimes by making arrests – have remained steady for major crime categories. And the Milwaukee police force is about the same size, with 1,924 sworn personnel employed last year, or about 2% smaller than in 2005.

Flynn said a slower response to calls for service is merely a result of setting different priorities than his predecessor, Nanette Hegerty. Before his arrival, the department was myopic in its focus on rapid response to calls for service, he said.

Now, the Police Department has “reoccupied the public spaces” by expanding neighborhood policing efforts and ratcheting up the number of traffic and subject stops, Flynn said. The focus on proactive and data-driven policing, he said, has reduced crime in a way that couldn’t have been done by old-fashioned, reactive policing.

“Since the average resident of this city is willing to wait four hours for the cable guy and half a day for a furniture delivery, it seems to me a reasonable delay in responding for a call is an acceptable balance,” Flynn said in an interview with the Journal Sentinel.

“I’m willing to accept increased response time for decreased crime. And I’m willing to say a marginal increase in response time is directly related to our significant decrease in street crime. It’s allowing us to use district-based resources to do something else other than chase hitches, which is all they were doing before.”

Some law enforcement experts echoed Flynn’s remarks, saying police departments shouldn’t be judged on response times alone.

But Milwaukee Police Association President Mike Crivello and others disagree with the chief’s stance on the issue.

“I don’t know how you can say response times being slower is a good thing,” Crivello said. “To adopt a philosophy that response time doesn’t matter and to accept that it is no longer the department’s focus is absolutely problematic and should be unacceptable.”

Ald. Bob Donovan, chairman of the Common Council’s Public Safety Committee, said he is concerned about the newspaper’s findings and by the number of citizen complaints received by his office each month.

“Response to calls is a very, very low priority – Chief Flynn admits it,” said Donovan, who represents a south side district. “Yet we aren’t talking about a dog pooping on the front lawn. We are talking about serious disruption of neighborhoods that isn’t getting the necessary response.”

Milwaukee police officers are instructed to respond swiftly to high-priority emergency calls, but must rank less severe calls, Flynn said.

“If somebody is bleeding, we are going to get there right now. But for a vast majority of these calls, a somewhat delayed response is a very small price to pay for our ability to aggressively prevent crime,” he said in the interview, which took place earlier this year.

“I’m not trying to say, ‘We don’t care.’ We do care very much. But we as stewards of this very precious resource, which is police capacity, we have to balance it intelligently.”
‘He couldn’t breathe’

On the night of the June crash, Jenny Teubert of Milwaukee crouched down next to the Honda Civic, comforting the elderly couple whose car had just been knocked south across the intersection by the Lumina.

“He was saying he couldn’t breathe,” Teubert said. “He was saying he felt like his chest was caving in.”

In interviews with the newspaper , Teubert and another witness, Molly Sacharski of Menomonee Falls, both said the driver of the Lumina appeared to be speeding.

The Lustigs’ car was struck on the passenger side, and Jim Lustig was trapped by the crumpled steel chassis. Teubert helped the Lustigs unbuckle their seat belts. She gave Jim Lustig a shirt to stop the bleeding from cuts on his head and hand.

A couple minutes after the collision, Teubert dialed 911 at 10:15 p.m. to notify fire and police about Lustig’s chest pains. About five minutes later, a Milwaukee fire truck and an ambulance arrived at the crash scene.

Firefighters determined that Jim Lustig needed to be extracted from the vehicle. They radioed in for a ladder truck equipped with the Jaws of Life, a hydraulic rescue tool to free trapped passengers.

There was no sign of police.

Less than 10 minutes after Teubert’s call came in, a police dispatcher wrote in a call log that the Fire Department was “checking on squad, need squad to hurry, they need for traffic and someone has to get removed out of vehicle.”

The call report shows that squad cars in police District 4, which covers the far northwest side, were tied up on other calls. About 10 minutes later, the Fire Department was again requesting police squads to handle traffic around the crash scene.

According to the radio transmission, a Milwaukee firefighter tells a dispatcher, “Emergency personnel are in harm’s way with traffic right now. . . . I don’t want any of my personnel getting hit by cars.”

The call initially was classified by police as a priority 3, a category that includes property damage incidents . It was soon upgraded to priority 2 , which includes accidents with personal injuries. The Police Department uses an internal system to prioritize calls for service, typically ranking incidents as priority 1 calls if someone’s personal safety is in danger, such as shootings.

Nearly 35 minutes later, after Jim Lustig had been extracted from his vehicle, a police dispatcher wrote, “broadcast yet again . . . no response.”

The dispatcher also noted that squad cars were only available for top priority assignments because they were working in their designated “squad patrol areas.”

In each district, some officers are assigned to respond to emergencies. The remainder – often the majority of officers – are assigned to proactively patrol a district or an area that’s been identified recently as hot spot for criminal activity, police Lt. Michael Schmitz said.

Teubert said the slow police response bothered her.

“If (police) would have been there on time, they would have seen a lot more than just what I’m telling them,” she said. “They would have seen firsthand exactly what was going on.”

At 11:05 p.m., the Lustigs were taken to Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls and two victims from the Lumina were transported to St. Joseph Hospital in West Bend. Jim Lustig would later be flown by helicopter to Froedtert Hospital.

Two police squads eventually arrived at the crash scene more than two hours later, at 12:17 a.m.

Officers surveyed the scene and then spent the next several days tracking down witnesses and victims to piece together what had happened.

On June 18, two days after the crash, a police officer met Teubert and Sacharski at the crash scene and asked them describe what they had witnessed.

“I had to take him back to the scene after the fact,” said Teubert, who attended Jim Lustig’s funeral. “I was a little upset with that fact. I just had a rough idea of where things were. I only knew where the Lustigs’ car was. It seemed like it was a joke.”

The 47-year-old driver of the Lumina has not been ticketed or charged in the incident, according to available records. He has four felony convictions from the 1980s including one for hit and run, court records show. He had no automobile insurance at the time of the crash, according to the police accident report.

Jean Lustig also has not been cited or charged, according to available records.

Police did not respond to questions about the delayed response to the fatal crash.

Jim Lustig died in the early morning hours of June 19 at Froedtert Hospital.

A retired truck driver, he left behind Jean, his wife of 61 years, two sisters, three sons and five grandchildren.

“It was a long, happy marriage,” Jean Lustig said. “We made it through everything.”
Downplaying response

Some police experts interviewed by the Journal Sentinel downplayed response times as an appropriate measure of a police department’s performance.

Getting to the scene quickly doesn’t mean police will have a better chance of making an arrest, said Chuck Wexler, executive director of the Police Executive Research Forum, based in Washington, D.C.

In past decades, police departments measured success based too heavily on response times, he said. Research conducted by his group and others in the 1970s and 1980s found that the speed of response times alone does not determine the quality of police service.

A rapid response to calls for service only makes a difference for crimes that are in progress, Wexler said.

“These studies confirm that it wasn’t the time it took to get the call, it was what you did once you got there,” he said.

Wexler’s view is shared by Milwaukee police officials. Assistant Police Chief James Harpole said focusing on rapid response to calls is not an effective police strategy.

“I think smarter policing also means vetting the calls better and having more availability for squads to be in neighborhoods that are most impacted by crime,” Harpole said. “If every time a call came in we immediately sent a squad to that call, you would have no police patrolling your streets.”

Others see it differently.

Jim Ponzi, assistant professor of criminology at Regis University in Denver, said police response times are critical for maintaining public trust.

“The people who are paying the taxes for services are discouraged if the one time they need police, . . . (the police) don’t show up for two hours,” said Ponzi, a retired lieutenant from the Denver Police Department. “I wouldn’t ever say response times don’t matter, especially if you are talking about community policing, because it’s all about the relationship between the police department and the citizen.”

Slow police response times can take a human toll, said Susan Howley, public policy director at the National Center for Victims of Crime in Washington, D.C.

Crime victims tend to have an urgent need for someone to restore their sense of safety – but a sluggish response means victims are held in limbo for longer.

“They have the sense that they don’t matter,” Howley said. “It may make them less likely for them to cooperate at later stages. It is the first response to victims that will color their view of the entire criminal justice system.”
Armed robbery

In late October 2009, two masked men, one armed with a sawed-off shotgun, stormed into Split Endz beauty salon on Milwaukee’s north side and robbed the store.

After demanding purses, jewelry and cash from employees and customers, the men fled the salon, located near the intersection of N. 32nd St. and W. Lisbon Ave.

Soon after, an employee called 911 to report the crime, witnesses said. Even though the armed robbery was listed as a priority 1 call, it took more than 34 minutes for a police squad car to arrive on the scene, department records show.

By then, the perpetrators were long gone.

Police did not make any arrests on the case, according to available records.

“It was shabby police work,” said owner Teresa Morton, who was in the store when it was robbed. “I think they would have caught them if they had gotten here earlier.”

Records show a police squad was dispatched in less than 5 minutes, but didn’t arrive for almost 30 minutes after that.

In the data released to the newspaper, the response time to this call would be listed as 4 minutes and 48 seconds, not the time it actually took for police to get to the scene.

When police did arrive, they said they had been given the wrong address, Morton and other employees said. The initial 911 call came from the Children’s Pantry Daycare, which operates around the corner from Split Endz.

Witnesses interviewed at Split Endz said it took police longer than the time shown in the department’s call history for the robbery.

In fact, Morton remembers that her husband drove from their home in West Bend – at least a 40-minute drive – and arrived at the store before police did.

Morton’s son, Terry Ferguson, said he was upset with the police response despite multiple calls from him and other employees at the store.

“It was something ridiculous,” Ferguson said. “I remember getting really irate with them because it just took too long for a robbery of that type of magnitude. These guys stuck (guns) in my mother’s and sister’s faces. I thought at the most maybe 15 minutes we should have waited for someone to get here.”

That would have been quicker than usual – last year, the average response time for armed robbery calls was just under 18 minutes.

Police did not respond to questions about the armed robbery.
‘No response’

Besides serious crimes, more than a dozen residents interviewed by the Journal Sentinel expressed concern at a lack of police response to non-emergency calls such as drug dealing, gang activity, car break-ins or loud music.

Instead of sending a squad car to the scene of low-priority calls, a police unit staffed mainly by limited-duty officers in each district often takes reports from residents over the phone.

Known as the Differential Police Response Unit, the group was created in 2008 to allow officers more time for high-priority calls and proactive policing, Flynn said.

The number of calls diverted to the differential response unit has more than doubled during the past three years to greater than 47,000 calls last year, police figures show.

Meanwhile, the number of calls that police sent a squad to has dropped by 8% during the same period.

Some city residents say the strategy isn’t working in their neighborhoods.

“It’s not that there’s a slow response, there’s no response,” said Dave Taylor, a retired bus driver who lives on S. 23rd St. He has called police countless times about gangs, public drinking and loud music on his block.

“I’ll call dispatch and later get a call back and they’ll ask ‘Is it still going on?’ Of course it is. What’s the sense of calling if they don’t show up?”

Howley, with the national crime victims group, said residents can lose trust in law enforcement if they feel ignored, even on non-emergency calls.

“You still expect a response,” Howley said. “And lack of response is, at least in the minds of the residents there, creating or adding to an unsafe climate in their community.”

On the north side, Vicki Kopping called police three times last fall to report break-ins to two of her vehicles.

First, someone shot out the window of her pickup truck and tried to steal it in late September in the 8200 block of W. Villard Ave, she said. She called police, but no squad showed up to take a report.

The same thing happened two more times over the next few weeks, and each time there was no police response, although police did take a report on one of the incidents when she went to the district station and complained.

Fed up, Kopping filed a citizen’s complaint with the Fire and Police Commission.

“It makes me think that they just don’t care,” Kopping said. “I’m sick and tired of those guys not showing up. They don’t do anything.”

Police did not respond to questions about any of the specific incidents.

South side resident James Artz called police in May to report that someone had broken into his van and ripped out the radio in the 1600 block of S. 29th St. Instead of sending a squad out, a dispatcher took a police report over the phone. The same thing happened when he reported graffiti to his vehicle in March.

“I understand it’s a petty crime, but enough petty crimes turn into a bigger crime,” said his son, Mike Artz. “We just want our personal safety and our property safe. I don’t see how that will happen when people can commit crimes and the police do not respond or collect evidence.”

Journal Sentinel reporter Gitte Laasby contributed to this report.

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