Milwaukee Police Chief Says to Hell With the Rule of Law

Thursday, April 23rd, 2009

After Wisconsin’s attorney general said it’s legal to open carry in his state, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn responded:

“My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it.”

Milwaukee’s first problem is that it has a police chief who refers to the city’s peace officers as “my troops.”

No wonder the city’s force includes cops like Det. Kent Corbett, who actually wrote a letter to the editor of National Review in defense of the Maryland raid on Mayor Cheye Calvo. Not in defense of the use of SWAT teams or drug raids in general, but of the specific (and violent, and mistaken) raid on Calvo.

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58 Responses to “Milwaukee Police Chief Says to Hell With the Rule of Law”

  1. #1 |  joshgeek | 

    i live in the Milwaukee area. Last night’s newscast on this story highlighted the fact that if someone has an open carry permit and is questioned by police while openly carrying, that person has the right to NOT ANSWER ANY QUESTIONS. When the reporter queried Flynn on this, he said something to the effect of “we don’t care. we’ll consider that obstruction.” i don’t remember his exact quote, but it struck me as rather peculiar. Glad to see u pick up this one.

  2. #2 |  C. S. P. Schofield | 

    If I were the Mayor of Milwaukee, the moment I noticed this statement I would call the Chief and inform him that he had 24 hours to either retract or pack his bags and leave town. It wouldn’t matter what my personal position of Gun Control was; the Chief is making Milwaukee lawsuit-bait.

  3. #3 |  MassHole | 

    #2 is right on. The city council is getting ready to write some big checks if they follow through with this. The city’s lawyers must be freaking out.

  4. #4 |  chsw | 

    Another thumbs up for CSPS’ viewpoint.

  5. #5 |  Nick T | 

    This si the world we live in now. Taking their cues from national debates, government officials don’t need to follow the law. If you think you’re “protecting people” or someone tells you you are right, then you can do anything. Laws are completely and utterly optional.

  6. #6 |  OGRE | 

    Ah, the worst kind of cop there is. The kind that think they CREATE the law as well as ENFORCE the law. Theres very good reasons those powers are separated.

    He’s actually begging for an officer to get shot. If one of his ‘troops’ decides to detain a person who is doing nothing illegal or suspicious, that person has the right to forcefully resist such an unlawful detainment.

    I’d also add that contrary to the delusions of most law enforcement, not answering questions is NOT obstruction. Obstruction almost always carries a ‘force’ component; i.e. the defendant has to use physical force of some kind, or has to be in violation of another law. It is not, and never has been, a catch all so that police can charge anybody who doesn’t cow-tow to them right away.

  7. #7 |  The Liberty Papers »Blog Archive » Milwaukee Police Chief Says To Hell With The Constitution | 

    […] H/T: Radley Balko Share and Enjoy: […]

  8. #8 |  claude | 

    “My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it.”

    Let me know how that works out for ya, General.

  9. #9 |  ktc2 | 

    RE: #6

    Please correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the SCOTUS decide innocent US citizens DO NOT have the right to resist an unlawful arrest?

    Kind of like escaping from prison, even if you are proven innocent of the crime that sent you there you still get to do time for escaping?

  10. #10 |  ktc2 | 

    Also as to the general original post, is anybody really surprised?

    This is 100% typical cop-think. “I AM THE LAW!!!”

  11. #11 |  Bill | 

    So the guy has “troops”, and is standing in opposition to the U.S Constitution (2nd Amendment, anyone?) and the government of his state.

    Viva la revolucion!

    And here we thought Texas would be the first to go…

  12. #12 |  Rhayader | 

    The use of the word “troops”, like Radley said, is incredibly telling. It is an admission of the obvious but oft-denied “us versus them” mentality that has come to characterize our approach to law enforcement over the past few decades.

    It’s just like all the cops who make a distinction between “police” and “civilians”. There used to be a time when police were civilians. They were a part of their communities, not above them. Those days are long gone, which is tragic.

    Given that mentality, the almost daily stories on this blog about egregious abuses of power are not surprises, but unfortunate confirmations of a protection culture turned into a punishment culture.

  13. #13 |  Dave Krueger | 

    I grew up in the Milwaukee berbs. But that was back when organized crime and the cops were different organizations.

  14. #14 |  Lorraine Sumrall | 

    Yeah, the “my troops” thing was the first thing that stopped me in my tracks when I read it. This mentality that the police now have of being soldiers in combat against the enemy permeates everything they do. And, of course, I am the enemy.

  15. #15 |  SJE | 

    #2, CSPS:

    Its not just the lawsuits, its about chain of command. If the chief of police thinks he can just thumb his nose at the state AG or the mayor, he needs to pack his bags tonight.

  16. #16 |  Mike T | 

    “My message to my troops is if you see anybody carrying a gun on the streets of Milwaukee, we’ll put them on the ground, take the gun away and then decide whether you have a right to carry it.”

    I can just see that one, even in a liberal court.

    “Was he brandishing his weapon?”

    “No.”

    “Was he acting menacingly toward others?”

    *Crickets chirp where the witnesses are sitting* “No.”

    “Did he not try to inform you he had a valid carry license?”

    “Yes.”

    “Then WHAT THE F#$% IS HE DOING HERE?!”

  17. #17 |  ktc2 | 

    #16,

    Perhaps once but long ago.

    Now it would be more like:

    Cop testi-lies that he was threatening.

    DA presents planted note and claims it was found in the defendant’s pocket threating to kill all the ___________’s.

    Peaceful innocent citizen gets sent to organized gay rape camp for 25 years.

  18. #18 |  Mike T | 

    KTC2,

    The testilying issue is probably a very serious one in this case.

    With that said, the police chief has given law-abiding citizens good reason to be violent toward his police, as they cannot fully exercise their legal rights without being subjected to violence by a lawless police force.

  19. #19 |  roy | 

    IIRC, sovereign immunity ends if the government agent is knows what he is doing is against the law. The police force has been informed about the law. So the first time an officer follows Flynn’s policy, the officer should be arrested for aggravated assault, and the rest of the force should be charged with conspiracy.

    In fact, if the force acts on this policy, there will be no response except maybe a fake investigation and a post-it sized story in the local newspaper.

    I’m not sure what more to say, except this sucks.

  20. #20 |  Danno49 | 

    Like most of you, I cringed when I read the chief’s reference to his officers as cops. It is so telling of the climate we live in today. And it just keeps getting worse and worse.

    When it comes down to the time when the people who say ‘I told you so’ to say that, it will be too late. For they will all be in prison or dead for proactively saying so. Each day gets more and more scary. Not so much because clowns like this chief are in charge in certain places, but because people are compliant to their whims. Which makes them complicit in the process.

    We’re so fucked.

  21. #21 |  max | 

    “Then WHAT THE F#$% IS HE DOING HERE?!”

    “He assaulted the officer during the arrest, forcing his spine and kidneys into the officer’s knee with great force.”

    WHAT I would be interested in seeing is an officer taking the chief at his word and wrestling other police to the ground to disarm them.

  22. #22 |  dubber308 | 

    The chief is ordering his “troops” to assault, kidnap and steal from people that are doing nothing wrong. The chief and his “troops” are now no better than any Crip, Blood, or MS-13 gangbanger. They are just two-bit thugs with a tin star. They should be dealt with accordingly.

  23. #23 |  moldy | 

    Well, so this so called “chief” agrees with the shooting of dogs (or any helpless pet in range) for the “shock and awe” effect to scare the person(s) into submission FOR THE SAFETY OF THE RAIDING PARTY (that means da police guys, not the citizen). I bet he thought that kid that got shot in the chest for a lowly pot bust was really deserving of that too?

    And if we get the wrong house, er… too bad. Go down to Petco and buy a new pet.

  24. #24 |  Shane Haithcock | 

    2nd mistake is having a chief who thinks he has more power than the locally elected officials who make the laws.

  25. #25 |  Danno49 | 

    I really wish there was an edit function here. This line:

    when I read the chief’s reference to his officers as cops.

    should have been:

    when I read the chief’s reference to his officers as troops.

    I’m ADD, goldurnit.

  26. #26 |  Marty | 

    another isolated case…

    if he’s like the chiefs around here, he’s politically connected and carries a bit of influence throughout the area. he’ll have tons of people lining up behind him supporting this bullshit. I predict he’ll be come out smelling like a rose and end up being a serious candidate for governor.

  27. #27 |  Dunrobin | 

    I hope that 2nd amendment supporters in Milwaukee will organize an “open carry” mass protest outside of police headquarters. I’ll bet this obscene jackbooted thug would crap himself if hundreds (or better, thousands) of peaceful citizens showed up on his doorstep all wearing firearms.

  28. #28 |  MacK | 

    First I do not believe there is a license/permit needed, or I could not find it anyways.
    Second you cannot obstruct by using your 5th Amendment right, and keeping silent.
    Wisconsin does have a stop and Identify law (legal under the 4th Amendment?), which states you must give your name, address, and an explanation of what you are doing (What I’m doing? Now that’s BS!!!!), if the officer reasonably suspects you of committing, about to commit, or did commit a crime.
    http://www.legis.state.wi.us/statutes/Stat0968.pdf
    Section: 968.24

    Sounds like the police would have no legal right to stop, and question you just for open carrying. The BS of since you are open carrying means we can stop you, because you may have committed a crime does not apply. It is like saying we can stop you while driving anytime we want, because you may have been in a hit, and run accident last night.

  29. #29 |  PolyTick | 

    #28 MacK is right. Wisconsin has always allowed open carry — no permit required. Unfortunately there is NO provision for concealed carry unless you are a “peace officer”.

    Also… Don’t carry in your vehicle even open. All firearms must be unloaded, in a case or sleeve that completely covers the weapon and locked in the trunk.

    There is already talk to make open carry illegal too. Our governor behaves like he’s from the Land of Lincoln and holds the majority in the legislature.

    Don’t test any of this unless you don’t mind risking life, limb, time and property. Wisconsin JBTs are just like everyone else’s. Milwaukee is a perfect example.

  30. #30 |  Will | 

    Wisconsin never actually allowed open carry. It may say so in the books, but if you have a firearm on you open or not you will get busted. I got busted for have a firearm locked and cased in my vehicle. It was not within access, but was loaded. $210 for load weapon in vehicle.

  31. #31 |  ZappaCrappa | 

    I lived many many years in the area and Milwaukee has one of the more corrupt police forces in the country and it goes back for decades. Chief Jones (former police chief) was a real piece of work. Looks like his predecessor is a chip off the old block. I actually knew a few Milwaukee cops….I liked none of them. I found them to be arrogant, above-it-all, hypocrites. Milwaukee has a notorious history with it’s police force. Feel free to give it all in the line of duty boys…..I don’t shed tears over hypocrites and tyrants and didn’t meet a one of you who wasn’t one or both.

  32. #32 |  Sesquiculus | 

    Donno about Wisconsin, but here in Texas police lose their legal protections if they are acting contrary to the law. Here, you can even use force to resist the illegal actions of a police officer.

    This is not just theoretical. Once, a Texas deputy penitentiary warden and a prison guard took a prisoner outside and started to beat him up. He killed one of them. The jury ruled that it was self-defense, not murder.

  33. #33 |  supercat | 

    Donno about Wisconsin, but here in Texas police lose their legal protections if they are acting contrary to the law. Here, you can even use force to resist the illegal actions of a police officer.

    If judges were willing to do their jobs, they would recognize that the prohibition of nobility and Supremacy Clause would require such treatment.

  34. #34 |  Tokin42 | 

    wow. I was so wrapped up in another thread I didn’t really catch the part of this story about Det. Corbett. I remember that post, what a dick.

  35. #35 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    I believe Ed Flynn to be a dick head. Corbett, too.

    What’s the downside of anarchy again?

  36. #36 |  Boyd Durkin | 

    To the lawsuit issue, why isn’t every licensed in WI heading to Milwaukee to cash in?

  37. #37 |  Michael Chaney | 

    2nd mistake is having a chief who thinks he has more power than the locally elected officials who make the laws.

    We’ll see if it’s a mistake or not. I’m guessing “not”.

  38. #38 |  joshgeek | 

    @Will
    so what you’re saying is the police will do whatever they want, regardless of the law?

    @zappacrappa
    it’s true, the milwaukee pd has a lush history of shenanigans. the frank jude, jr. case comes to mind from the more recent incidents.

  39. #39 |  GreginOz | 

    Am reminded of watching a re-run of Orange County Chopper the other day, when they were building a bike for the NYPD (To Detest & Serb). The level of grovelling, sickening worship, the malodorius, fawnig ‘patriotism’, the cloying and simpering admiration of the Teuttals (sic?) was ass-tounding!

  40. #40 |  Roho | 

    Sounds like the Chief is okay with protests. A little later in the same speech:
    “Maybe I’ll end up with a protest of cowboys.”
    All taken together, it’s nice to see a police chief who really *respects* the citizens of his city.

    http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/43347632.html

  41. #41 |  rick | 

    This is why citizens need to have the right to violently resist unlawful arrest (like they have had for most of American history). That would take care of his troops and his attitude real quick

  42. #42 |  Jim March | 

    Quoting:


    Please correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t the SCOTUS decide innocent US citizens DO NOT have the right to resist an unlawful arrest?

    That’s true – but this is NOT about unlawful arrest. What this Chief is telling his “troops” to commit is unlawful ASSAULT.

    If I pull a gun on you, that’s assault. The rules are no different for cops. It IS still legal to resist an assault with deadly force with deadly force of your own.

    It probably wouldn’t be a good idea unless you have both audio and video proof you committed no crime giving them reason to draw…but cameras are getting pretty damn small these days.

  43. #43 |  stromm sarnac | 

    People, you’re reading way too much into the “troopers” phrase.

    MANY State police are called Troopers and their commanders call groups of them troops. It has nothing to do with “being military like”.

    Geesh. I guess some people will look for any reason to lambaste someone who is doing a job they themselves don’t have any clue about.

  44. #44 |  garry walsh | 

    The purpose of police in america is to protect rich peoples property. That includes intimidation and violence against the populace. For what to do about this look to the French or Greeks. They have a spine and stand up to the facists. Americans put their hands on their hearts and sing God Bless America and then go shopping. You have earned your enslavement.

  45. #45 |  Mini Marine | 

    Well, since one of the very few good things Bush did was sign into law national concealed carry rights for law enforcement officers, I have a few cop friends that are thinking about taking some vacation time in Milwaukee to see if these guys are actually gonna follow through on this bullshit.

    There are many good cops out an about who are doing everything they can to serve the community. I’m working on my criminal justice degree and plan on becoming a police officer myself. So while I agree that the statement this chief made is absolutely abhorrent, you just can’t lump all cops as jackbooted thugs on a power trip.

  46. #46 |  Libertarian | 

    So which one of you law abiding honorable Milwaukee citizens is willing to challenge this guy in court? If I lived there I would be parading around in front of the police station with a clearly visible revolvers on both hips. With my Attorneys number on speed dial and a hidden camera and microphone. This is what is it going to take to put people like this in their place.

  47. #47 |  OneByTheCee | 

    #32 | Sesquiculus | April 23rd, 2009 at 6:01 pm
    said:
    “This is not just theoretical. Once, a Texas deputy penitentiary warden and a prison guard took a prisoner outside and started to beat him up. He killed one of them. The jury ruled that it was self-defense, not murder.”

    If this is, in fact, true, then all that’s left to be said is Hallelujah!

  48. #48 |  OneByTheCee | 

    #46 | Libertarian | April 25th, 2009 at 11:00 am
    So which one of you law abiding honorable Milwaukee citizens is willing to challenge this guy in court? If I lived there I would be parading around in front of the police station with a clearly visible revolvers on both hips. With my Attorneys number on speed dial and a hidden camera and microphone. This is what is it going to take to put people like this in their place.

    Actuallly you would need a couple of other people filming away from you so the TROOPS couldn’t destroy any recorded evidence because we all know how evidence unfavorable to the Police seems to go “missing” when said evidence portrays the Police in a less than favorable light. Maybe OpenCarry.org could organize and fund such a “sting operation”???

  49. #49 |  Woog | 

    re: #9

    Matters of the impossibility of black-robed tyrants deciding away inherent liberties, look up “John Bad Elk vs US”, a case where a person successfully defended himself from an unlawful arrest, killing the cop, and the self-defense killing was ultimately was found to be justified.

  50. #50 |  Fred | 

    “parading around in front of the police station with a clearly visible revolvers on both hips. … This is what is it going to take ”

    No, you can go to court today, and ask for a “declaratory judgment” that you have the right to parade around, etc.

    You don’t need to wait for the collision to occur as long as it’s impending.

  51. #51 |  Fred | 

    “you just can’t lump all cops as jackbooted thugs on a power trip.”

    No – just the ones that didn’t issue a public statement that they will disregard this illegal order.

    Just the ones that didn’t issue a public statement condemning “Chief” Flynn’s call for crime.

    Just the ones that arrested “Chief” Flynn for conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, battery, grand theft, etc.

    All those cops, those are the good cops.

  52. #52 |  Fred | 

    correction:

    “you just can’t lump all cops as jackbooted thugs on a power trip.”

    No, the good cops are the ones that issued a public statement that they will disregard this illegal order.

    The good cops are the ones that didn’t issue a public statement condemning “Chief” Flynn’s call for crime.

    The good cops are the ones that arrested “Chief” Flynn for conspiracy to commit aggravated assault, battery, grand theft, etc.

    It’s only the others that are jackbooted thugs on a power trip. And/or cowards.

  53. #53 |  The Agitator » Blog Archive » Morning Links | 

    […] an affair with the city’s police chief just months after writing a flattering profile of him. That would be this police chief, by the […]

  54. #54 |  Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse (Unless You’re in Law Enforcement) | The Agitator | 

    […] he isn’t alone. Law enforcement officials in Milwaukee and Philadelphia have expressed similar sentiments, and without much […]

  55. #55 |  Attack the System » Blog Archive » Ignorance of the Law Is No Excuse (Unless You’re in Law Enforcement) | 

    […] he isn’t alone. Law enforcement officials in Milwaukee and Philadelphia have expressed similar sentiments, and without much […]

  56. #56 |  Morning Links | The Agitator | 

    […] police chief who once said he’d instruct his officers to completely disregard the rule of law, and instead throw people […]

  57. #57 |  Sunday Afternoon Links | The Agitator | 

    […] to the officer’s actions as “noble cause misconduct.” You remember Ed Flynn. He’s the one who instructed his “troops” to tackle, detain anyone carrying a gun in the city, even […]

  58. #58 |  Bergman | 

    Simple Solution:

    Wisconsin police are not immune to citizen’s arrest. It’s reasonable to assume that anyone who swears an oath will keep it. After all, our entire court system runs on this reasonable belief. A guy in police uniform violating that oath is obviously an impersonator, not a real cop.

    Impersonating a police officer is a misdemeanor, which increases to a felony if the impersonation is to aid or abet the commission of a crime. Assault and battery are crimes, and dressing as a police officer causes law-abiding citizens to not resist those crimes, thus aiding and abetting the commission of those crimes.

    A public official using his official authority under color of law to violate a constitutional right, such as the right to keep and bear arms, violates Title 18, Chapter 13, Section 242 of the U.S. code. In other words, he commits a crime.

    If a person in a police uniform violates the police oath and commits a federal crime, it is reasonable to assume that they are a police impersonator. So tackle them, take their gun away, and hold them at gunpoint until you can verify whether they can lawfully wear the uniform or not.

    Hey, if it were illegal to do that, real cops wouldn’t do that, right?

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