Big City Chiefs Focused on Protecting Officers

MILWAUKEE --

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said he and nine other chiefs of major U.S. cities were summoned to Washington, D.C. last Tuesday. According to Flynn, Attorney General Eric Holder wanted to questioned them about protecting their officers.

A total of 24 police officers have been killed in the U.S. in the first three months of 2011, according to the Milwaukee Police Department.

"We have a new generation of offenders who are less socialized and have access to high-quality, high-capacity firearms that they are not reluctant to use," said Flynn.

Flynn, and other law enforcement leaders across the country, have now focused on the safety of their officers.

Flynn will soon require all officers to wear body armor. This is to comply with rules of a federal program.

"The Justice Department has a program that gives us body armor. The federal government is now making it a requirement that if you accept that money you have to have a policy that mandates the wearing of that body armor," said Flynn. He said the department is putting together a policy that will put the mandate in effect.

Flynn said he also wants to strengthen security at station houses.

"We don't want to try to turn our station houses into fortresses. They are public buildings. But we also recognize we have a fundamental obligation to those people who risk their lives on our behalf to take prudent steps to protect their security," said Flynn.

The Milwaukee Police Association backs the station house security plan but would not comment on the body armor. Union president Mike Cirvello said he needed to read more on the federal program requirements.

"Anything we can do to mitigate that risk to (officers) by enhancing safety is greatly important to us, including getting two guys back into the squad cars in the roughest parts of the city," said Cirvello.

Also in the D.C. summit the police chiefs discussed lobbying for tougher laws directed at serious firearms offenders.

"Right now in Wisconsin we've got the worst of all worlds. We've got open carry. And I've seen people literally mugged for their guns. And we have a misdemeanor offense for being caught with a concealed weapon illegally. That's just dumb. Right now our bad guys are carrying guns with impunity. Until they are as afraid of getting locked up as they are of running into someone with a gun we're going to keep losing young men to the streets," said Flynn.

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