Milwaukee Police Department

Milwaukee Police Department
Milwaukee Police Department
Abbreviation MPD
Milwaukee Police Department.jpg
Logo of the Milwaukee Police Department.
Motto "Be A Force"
Agency overview
Formed 1855
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Legal jurisdiction Municipal
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Police Administration Building, Downtown Milwaukee
Sworn members 2,000
Agency executive Edward A. Flynn, Chief of Police
Stations 8 (7 Districts, 1 NTF)
Boats 5
Official website

The Milwaukee Police Department is the police department that protects the city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The department has a contingent of about 2,000 sworn officers when at full strength. Edward Flynn is the current chief of police.



MPD was founded in 1855. At the time when Milwaukee had an extremely high crime rate, fueled by local gangs, mobs, thieves and robbers. Milwaukee was originally served by the Milwaukee County Sheriff's office, which became increasingly unable to provide adequate enforcement to the growing city. With burgeoning crime rates, citizens enacted an ordinance creating the Milwaukee Police Department.[1]

Milwaukee's first chief of police was William Beck, a former NYPD detective, and its first policemen were Fred Keppler, John Hardy, George Fische, James Rice, L.G. Ryan and David Coughlin. As the department expanded, patrolmen were supplemented by "roundsmen", who would lead the patrolmen out to their beats at the beginning of the evening shift, and supervise them during the shift. A roundsman earned $5 more a month than a patrolman [2].

The office of police chief, like the department in general, was subject to political forces for most of its history; for example, in 1878 new Mayor John Black appointed fellow Democrat Daniel Kennedy as chief, and Kennedy promptly fired twenty-five Republican patrolmen (as part of the spoils system then prevalent) [3].

In 1924, Judson W. Minor became Department's first African-American officer and in 1975 Ada Wright became the first female MPD officer. On November 15, 1996 Arthur Jones became the first African-American chief. A lawsuit filed after his term found that Jones discriminated against officers based on their race, giving African-American officers promotions before white officers.[4] The first female captain in the Milwaukee Police Department was Nannette Hegerty, who also became the first female chief of police in 2004. She retired in November 2007.[5]

1917 Bombing

On November 24, 1917, a large black powder bomb[6], wrapped as a package, was discovered by Maude L. Richter, a social worker, next to an evangelical church in the third ward.[7] She dragged the package into the church basement and notified the church janitor, Sam Mazzone.[8] Mazzone brought the bomb to the central police station at Oneida and Broadway and turned it over to police.[6][9] The station keeper was showing it to the shift commander, Lieutenant Flood, right before a scheduled inspection, when it exploded.[8] Nine members of the department were killed in the blast, along with a female civilian.[6][9] It was suspected at the time that the bomb had been placed outside the church by anarchists, particularly the Galleanist faction led by adherents of Luigi Galleani. At the time, the bomber's identity was not uncovered. Many years later, interviews with surviving Galleanist members revealed that Mario Buda, chief bombmaker for the Galleanists may have constructed the Milwaukee bomb.[9][10][11][12][13] At the time, the bombing was the most fatal single event in national law enforcement history[14], only surpassed later by the World Trade Center terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001 when 72 law enforcement officers representing eight different agencies were killed.


The Milwaukee Police Department is composed of numerous bureaus, divisions and sections. Each area has specific responsibilities which are essential to the management and administration of the department.

Ranks and insignia

Title Insignia
Fire and Police Commissioner
5 Gold Stars.svg
Chief of Police
4 Gold Stars.svg
Assistant Chief of Police
3 Gold Stars.svg
Inspector of Police ((Image:1 Gold Star.svg/ center/81px)) Deputy Inspector of Police
US-O4 insignia.svg
Police Captain
Captain insignia gold.svg
Police Lieutenant
Police Sergeant
NYPD Sergeant Stripes.svg
Police Officer
Police Aide

These Bureau, Divisions and Sections include:

Office of the Chief

  • Budget and Finance Division
  • Professional Performance Division
  • Public Information Office
  • Research & Development Section

Office of the Assistant Chief of Police

  • Field Inspection Division
  • Intergovernmental Services Division - License Investigation Unit, Municipal Security Section
  • Property Control Section

Patrol Bureau

  • Districts 1 thru 7 - Court Administration Section, Prisoner Processing Section, Municipal Security Section, Weed & Seed
  • Neighborhood Task Force

Planning & operations

  • Patrol Support Division - Tactical Enforcement Unit, Motorcycle Unit, Harbor Patrol Unit, Underwater Investigation Unit, Horse Mounted Patrol, Accident Reconstruction Unit.

Criminal Investigation Bureau

  • Homicide Division
  • Crimes Against Persons
  • Crimes Against Property
  • Sensitive Crimes Division - Juvenile Investigations, Sexual Assault Unit, Family Violence Unit

Administration Bureau

  • Administrative Services Division - Property Control Section, License Investigation Unit
  • Central Records Division - Records Management Section, Open Records Section, Traffic Records Section
  • Communication Division
  • Data Services Division
  • Identification Division
  • Maintenance Services Section
  • Police Academy - Firearms Section, In-Service Section, Recruit Section, Safety Division, Audiovisual Section, Community Services Division
  • Facilities Services Division - Printing & Stores Section
  • Personnel Division - Background Investigations, Medical Section, Payroll Section, Recruiting Section.

In the media

Wendy O. Williams

In January 1981 Milwaukee police officers arrested and allegedly severely beat Wendy O. Williams, singer of the punk group The Plasmatics, for simulating sex on stage. Charged with battery to an officer and obscene conduct, she was later cleared.[citation needed]

Lawrencia "Bambi" Bembenek

see Lawrencia Bembenek

Return of victim to Jeffrey Dahmer

In the early morning hours of May 27, 1991, 14-year-old Konerak Sinthasomphone (the younger brother of a boy Dahmer had molested) was discovered on the street, wandering nude. Reports of the boy's injuries varied. Jeffrey Dahmer, who had drugged and raped the boy, told police that they had an argument while drinking, and that Sinthasomphone was his 19-year-old lover. Against the teenager's protests, police turned him over to Dahmer. The officers later reported smelling a strange odor, which was eventually found to be bodies in the back of his room. Later that night Dahmer killed and dismembered Sinthasomphone, keeping his skull as a souvenir. Dahmer went on to kill four more people.[15]

John Balcerzak and Joseph Gabrish, the two police officers who returned Sinthasomphone to Dahmer, were fired from the Milwaukee Police Department after their actions were widely publicized, including an audiotape of the officers making homophobic statements to their dispatcher and laughing about having reunited the "lovers." The two officers appealed their termination, and were reinstated with back pay. Balcerzak would go on to be elected president of the Milwaukee Police Association in May 2005. Joseph Gabrish is now chief of police for the town of Trenton, Wisconsin, 30 miles north of Milwaukee.[16] [17]

Chicago shootings

In 1994, two Milwaukee police officers, Gabriel Bedoya and John Koch, went on a shooting spree in the city of Chicago. They fired shots at random into buildings on the Gold Coast of Chicago, including the residence of Cardinal Joseph Bernardin. When denied entry to a nightclub, Bedoya shot the bouncer at close range in the head and the two fled back to Milwaukee.[2]

Frank Jude Jr.

In October, 2004, Frank Jude Jr. attended a party held by police officer Andrew Spengler. Following allegations that Jude had taken an officer's badge, at least three officers confronted and beat Jude outside of Spengler's home. Officers Daniel Masarik, Andrew Spengler and Jon Bartlett were arrested and charged with the beating. All three were later fired from the Milwaukee Police Department, as were several other involved officers. The officers disciplined were both on- and off-duty the night of the beating. Masarik, Spengler and Bartlett were later found not guilty in state court. In July 2007, these three officers and another officer, Ryan Packard, went on trial in federal court on charges of violating the civil rights of Frank Jude Jr. and his friend, Levelle Harris. Spengler, Masarik and Bartlett were found guilty; Packard was found not guilty. The officers were sentenced on November 29, 2007. Bartlett received 17 years, Masarik and Spengler both received 15 years. The officers' attorneys have said the officers will appeal the sentences.[18][19]

Glenn Kelly

On July 7, 2006 at Miller Park, baseball fan Glenn Kelly fell or was pushed down by two Milwaukee police officers (accounts vary) outside an elevator. Kelly was not under detention at that time, but his daughter in law and son were for disorderly conduct and public intoxication, and he had attempted to get into the elevator with them, contrary to police and park policy (since they were under arrest). Eventually, the brawl ended when Kelly fell to the ground, cracking his head open on the concrete floor. Kelly was briefly unconscious but awoke and refused medical treatment. Later that day he lapsed into unconsciousness and was declared brain dead. He died July 12, 2006 when he was taken off life support. A deputy district attorney decided not to charge the officers, clearing them of any wrongdoing. Kelly's family filed notice of a pending lawsuit against the City of Milwaukee,[20], but nothing seems to have come of it.

Fallen officers

Since the establishment of the Milwaukee Police Department, 60 officers have died in the line of duty.[21] Their causes of death are as follows:

Cause of death Number of deaths
Automobile accident
Gunfire (Accidental)
Heart attack
Motorcycle accident
Struck by streetcar
Struck by train
Struck by vehicle
Vehicle pursuit

See also

Portal icon Wisconsin portal
Portal icon Law enforcement/Law enforcement topics portal


  1. ^ City of Milwaukee "History of the Milwaukee Police Department"
  2. ^ Wellauer-Lenius, Maralyn A. Milwaukee Police Department. Mt. Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2008; p. 16
  3. ^ Wellauer-Lenius, Maralyn A. Milwaukee Police Department. Mt. Pleasant, SC: Arcadia Publishing, 2008; p. 10
  4. ^ "City of Milwaukee History Page"
  5. ^ "Milwaukee Police Department History Page"
  6. ^ a b c Balousek, Marv, and Kirsch, J. Allen, 50 Wisconsin Crimes of the Century, Badger Books Inc. (1997), ISBN 1878569473, 9781878569479, p. 113
  7. ^ The Indianapolis Star, "Bomb Mystery Baffles Police", November 26, 1917
  8. ^ a b The Indianapolis Star, "Bomb Mystery Baffles Police", November 26, 1917
  9. ^ a b c "Milwaukee Police Department Officer Memorial Page"
  10. ^ Watson, Bruce, Sacco and Vanzetti: The Men, the Murders, and the Judgment of Mankind, Viking Press (2007), ISBN 0670063533, 9780670063536, p. 15
  11. ^ Avrich, Paul, The Anarchist Background, Princeton: Princeton University Press (1991)
  12. ^ Avrich, Paul, Anarchist Voices: An Oral History of Anarchism in America, Princeton: Princeton University Press (1996)
  13. ^ Dell’Arti, Giorgio, La Storia di Mario Buda, Io Donna, 26 gennaio 2002,
  14. ^ Deadliest Days in Law Enforcement History, National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (November 24, 1917)
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "3 ex-officers guilty", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, July 26, 2007"
  19. ^ "Ex-officers in Jude beating case get sentences of up to 17 years", Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Novembee 29, 2007"
  20. ^ "Family of man who died after being shoved by officers files notice, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, November 7, 2006"
  21. ^ [1]

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