Edward Flynn takes over today as Milwaukee police chief. “To me, there’s nothing like being an urban police chief,” Flynn tells the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “It’s intense. It’s up-tempo. And every decision matters.” Flynn, 59, brings a reputation as an innovator, a well-developed philosophy of policing, a rail-straight bearing, and a résumé that spans nearly 37 years in law enforcement, including 19 as a chief.
Flynn grew up in Brielle, N.J., a shore town 60 miles south of New York City. He was an only child. He was a history major at La Salle University in Philadelphia. At the time, there was a push from police departments to hire college graduates, liberal arts majors in particular. He wanted a big-city job, but settled for Hillside Township, N.J., which borders Newark, in part because it waived a residency requirement for college graduates. Flynn received a master’s degree at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. It was there that his goal of becoming a police chief took hold. The courses required digging into the scholarship on the problems of modern policing: The challenges of urban areas; the resistance of organizations to change; how officers interact with the public. In 2003, Flynn was tapped by then-Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney to be state secretary of public safety, overseeing a $1 billion budget and some 10,000 employees in corrections, state police, homeland security, and related areas.