Although homicide rates increased, new data showed overall crime rates in Milwaukee dropped again last year, continuing a three-year trend police attribute to anti-violence education programs.
In 2010, violent crime went down 7.1 percent, property crime went down 10.5 percent and total crime went down on average by 10 percent, according to Milwaukee Chief of Staff Patrick Curley.
He added that the total crime rate has been going down for the past three years, a drop of 19 percent from 2007 to 2010.
The drop in crime rate can be attributed to Milwaukee Police Chief Edward A. Flynn, Curley said.
“We have a very strong and proactive police chief, and he demands that the people who work for him in that department work hard and respond to his communication,” Curley said.
Flynn has been instrumental in encouraging community involvement through activities like block parties. This, in turn, has created a very proactive community fully engaged with the police department. Well over 400 residents attend and participate in police department meetings about ways to lessen crime in their neighborhoods, Curley said.
“The citizens of Milwaukee are well aware of how they can contribute to the decrease in crime rates,” Curley said.
However, one figure that did not drop is Milwaukee’s homicide rate.
Homicides in Milwaukee have increased from 72 cases in 2009 to 94 cases in 2010, Curley said, the majority of which can be attributed to domestic violence.
In 2010, Milwaukee had the highest rate of domestic violence in Wisconsin, according to Darald Hanusa, senior lecturer of social work at the University of Wisconsin.
He said one cause could be the economy.
“A lot of people talk about domestic violence as a crime of power and control, and if you are in a position where you’ve lost power financially, you lose self esteem, and so people will use domestic violence against others to offset that feeling,” Hanusa said.
Since many people have fallen into hard financial times or unemployment, they have more opportunity to use violence or control against victims, Hanusa said.
Still, Hanusa said that so far this year there have been fewer instances of domestic violence cases than at this time last year, a promising sign.