With Milwaukee experiencing a surge in homicides this year, Police Chief Edward Flynn called for more collaboration between local police and federal prosecutors. He said focused deterrence strategies used in Kansas City’s No Violence Alliance and in High Point, N.C., produced results, says the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The strategy entails identifying prolific offenders and hosting call-ins where they are given community support and offered resources to turn their lives around. They are told, often as a group, they have the attention of law enforcement and will face serious consequences, often federal charges, if arrested again. The most famous example is Boston, which saw homicides plummet from 152 in 1990 to 31 in 1999.
What’s missing in Milwaukee, Flynn said, is the regular involvement of the federal system. “The key element in the group violence reduction initiative, the High Point initiative, is the involvement of the United State’s attorney’s office because there are serious federal sanctions for a number of crimes that (in state court) are misdemeanors,” Flynn said. “Now, you don’t want to use it wantonly,” he added. “It’s got to be the right bad guys.” Acting U.S. Attorney Gregory Haanstad said it’s important to be selective with cases and choose those with a “clear federal interest at stake.” He added, “I think a lot of times what federal judges are on guard against is handling a high volume of what they see as relatively simple, straightforward street crime cases that could be just as easily prosecuted in state court.”