Milwaukee police have acknowledged misreporting thousands of aggravated assaults as minor crimes, but a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel review found that other serious crimes have gone missing from the city’s violent crime rate. An analysis of the department’s audit database, obtained last month through an open records request, found that reporting problems extend to robberies and sexual assaults. The newspaper’s review also found that hundreds of the underreported assaults involved shootings, including one in which the victim was shot in the neck and partially paralyzed.
Some of the incidents in the department’s database include dates that indicate they had been flagged as misreported before Chief Edward Flynn addressed a Common Council committee June 21 on the audit’s findings. “I think they have an obligation to be up front, as damaging as the facts may be,” said Alderman Bob Donovan who supports a comptroller’s audit. “We have a right to hear precisely what’s going on. If we aren’t given the unvarnished truth, it makes it rather difficult to do what’s right for our community.” The internal police audit was prompted by a Journal Sentinel investigation that found more than 500 cases of aggravated assault were underreported as lesser crimes from 2009 to early this year. Another 800 incidents followed the same pattern but couldn’t be confirmed with available data.