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Milwaukee PD increase foot patrol to combat crime

By John Dobberstein
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Milwaukee police plan to cut crime in two neighborhoods by using technology, targeted patrols, prosecutors, inspectors and officers who walk their beats instead of sitting in squad cars.

The plan, which District 3 Capt. James Harpole and fellow officers put together, covers the Historic Concordia and Avenues West neighborhoods west of downtown.

The neighborhoods are, statistically, not Milwaukee's most violent, residents pointed out at a meeting Wednesday.

But Police Chief Edward Flynn told the Journal Sentinel Editorial Board that he decided to launch the program after seeking ideas from his district commanders on "some quick wins."

He said he told them, "Give me an intervention right now."

Historic Concordia is home to a number of large mansions, some of them converted to bed-and-breakfasts.

Avenues West, immediately west of downtown, is home to Marquette University, a revamped Ambassador Hotel and several cultural and tourist attractions.

More than 27,000 people work within a mile of N. 27th St. and W. Wisconsin Ave., a major intersection in the neighborhood, according to the Avenues West Neighborhood Association.

The crime-fighting plan will focus heavily on the Wells St. corridor, which is known among many residents as "crack alley," Harpole said.

Wells St. has posed challenges for police for years, he said, with entrenched levels of crime that are tolerated by some people and abhorred by others.

Harpole, a one-time candidate for police chief, said crime has stabilized in the two neighborhoods in the past few years but gun crimes and armed robberies have increased of late.

Harpole laid out a strategy that uses a combination of data, heavy doses of police patrols, and close cooperation with residents, landlords, business leaders, the Milwaukee County district attorney's office and city inspectors.

Harpole has assigned a handful of police officers who are to park their patrol cars and begin walking patrols so they can get to know residents better and grasp their policing needs quickly.

Special patrols are to target prostitution, gangs and drug dealing, and the county's Community Prosecution Unit is to step up its targeting of nuisance properties.

Harpole also plans to boost the number of police meetings with neighborhood associations, landlords and other groups, and to create a Web page that will carry the local officers' contact information, crime prevention tips and limited police intelligence on recent crime issues.

Copyright 2008 The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

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