Edward A. Flynn

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Edward A. Flynn
Chief of Police, City of Milwaukee, Wisconsin
In office
2008 – 2019
[third 4-year term]
Preceded by Nannette Hegerty
Personal details
Born Edward A. Flynn
ca. 1948[not verified in body]
Brielle, New Jersey, U.S.
Nationality American
Spouse(s) Susan Flynn
Alma mater La Salle University, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
(BA, History)
Website Official website

Edward A. Flynn [born ca. 1948 (age 68–69)],[not verified in body] is the chief of the Milwaukee Police Department. Prior to assuming that position in January 2008, he was secretary of the Massachusetts executive office of public safety and the police commissioner in Springfield, Massachusetts. Flynn has been reappointed twice to the position, with his third four-year appointment being approved in July 2015.

Early life and education[edit]

Flynn grew up in Brielle, New Jersey, the only child of Edward, a paralyzed World War II veteran, and Constance, who worked part-time at the local library.[1] He graduated from Christian Brothers Academy in 1966.[1]

Flynn earned a BA in history from La Salle University in 1970 and a master's degree in criminal justice from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in 1976.[1]


Early positions[edit]

After college he worked for the New Jersey Department of Public Welfare. In 1971, he joined the Hillside Township, New Jersey police department. From 1973 to 1988, he was a member of the Jersey City, New Jersey police department, rising to the rank of inspector.[1][verification needed]


From 1988 to 1993, he served as police chief of Braintree, Massachusetts.[1] In Braintree, Flynn developed a reputation for using high-quality equipment. He was responsible for computerizing the department.[2]

From 1993 to 1998, he was chief of police in Chelsea, Massachusetts.[2][3] During his tenure, the police department adopted a community policing model, decentralized authority, recruited and promoted minorities, and encouraged inter-agency cooperation.[4][5]

From 1998 to 2002, he served as police chief in Arlington County, Virginia, where he was responsible for leading the police department's responses to the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon, and to the 2002 Beltway sniper shootings.[6][better source needed][verification needed]

He returned to Massachusetts in January 2003, when then-governor Mitt Romney appointed him as secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, the parent agency of the state police, department of correction, the National Guard, the department of fire services, office of the chief medical examiner, parole board, and the emergency management agency.[6][better source needed][verification needed]

Flynn resigned from Romney's cabinet in March 2006, when he was appointed police commissioner in Springfield, Massachusetts. Eighteen months into his five-year contract there, Flynn became a finalist for the chief of police position in Milwaukee. He was criticized by elected officials in Springfield, including mayor Charles Ryan and city councilor/mayor-elect Domenic Sarno for seeking a job.[7][8][9] Flynn was appointed Milwaukee chief of police on November 15, 2007, but remained in Springfield until the following January.[10]

Police chief, Milwaukee[edit]

Flynn was sworn in as Milwaukee police chief, on January 7, 2008.[8] He was only the second outsider in the history of the Milwaukee Police Department to be named chief.[1]

In late 2011 his contract was renewed for an additional four years, marking the first time since 1863 that a Milwaukee police chief was reappointed.[citation needed] He was credited with crime reductions every year of his tenure in Milwaukee, as well as mending police-citizen relations.[11]

Flynn was reappointed by a unanimous decision of the city's Fire and Police Commission to a third four-year term in July 2015.[11][12]

Other appointments and affiliations[edit]

Flynn was a 1996 National Institute of Justice Pickett Fellow at the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University.[13]

Challenges and controversies[edit]

Relationships with colleagues and lawmakers[edit]

In June 2011, Flynn criticized the state's proposed concealed-carry bill, saying that the bill did not provide enough supervision.[14][needs update] In December 2011, Flynn and Milwaukee County sheriff David A. Clarke, Jr engaged in a war of words over bus safety in Milwaukee after an increase in the number of reports of fighting incidents on buses. Clarke also attacked Flynn for rising response times to crime and for bringing the culture of another area to Milwaukee.[15][needs update]

Response to strip search complaints[edit]

In 2012, it was revealed that complaints were filed against seven Milwaukee police officers and a sergeant alleging that they performed unauthorized rectal searches during traffic stops. Flynn announced that all of them had been stripped of their police powers while the allegations were under investigation and urged citizens who felt that they had been subjected to an illegal strip search to come forward.[16][needs update]

Crime statistics reporting[edit]

In May 2012, Wisconsin governor Scott Walker joined state and city officials in calling for an independent audit of Milwaukee police crime data,[17][needs update] after a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigative report alleged that more than 500 cases of beatings, stabbings, and child abuse cases were mischaracterised in the city's violent crime rate data between 2009 and 2012, and so were misreported by the Milwaukee Police Department to the FBI as minor assaults.[18] The errors in reporting, if substantiated, would have forced a change to the claim by Flynn of a decrease in violent crime in 2011 (by 2.3%), to an increase (by 1.1%).[citation needed][needs update]

McBride affair[edit]

In 2009, Flynn admitted to an affair with journalist Jessica McBride.[8][19][20] In response to these allegations, he was quoted as saying "I have done my wife and family a great wrong, and I profoundly regret the hurt I have inflicted on them and others affected by my conduct [...]".[8][19][20]

Initial claims by Daniel Bice of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (MJS)—who pens a "Watchdog column" covering Wisconsin government entitled “No Quarter”[21]—that the affair was ongoing or coincident with a McBride story on the police chief have been refuted by Milwaukee Magazine editor Bruce Murphy.[22] Such coincidence would have implied conflict of interest, and so an issue of journalistic ethics, and Murphy, who edited the 5,400-word profile that McBride had written on Flynn, presented evidence to the contrary, and accused Bice of selective reporting of the facts of the Flynn-McBride case.[22][23] Murphy, who terms Bice's MJS coverage of the Flynn-McBride affair a "hatchet job,"[22] further reports having removed negative content regarding Flynn from early drafts of the McBride piece (in order to shorten it), and otherwise argues that representation of the piece using terms such as "glowing" by Bice and other follow-on reporters since news of the affair broke is a misrepresentation—stating instead, of the McBride profile, that

On balance, the story [on Flynn, in Milwaukee Magazine, by McBride] was positive, but in the storied career of Flynn, which had generated nothing but adulatory press, it was the toughest profile any reporter had ever done.[22]

Although Flynn claimed that the affair had ended in 2009, the scandal reemerged briefly in July 2012 when a letter written by McBride's husband to Flynn's wife asserting a continuing affair was submitted to the City of Milwaukee, and was thereafter released to the press.[24]

Personal life[edit]

Flynn and his wife Susan have been married since 1973. The couple has two grown children.[1] Susan has remained in Virginia while Flynn has worked in Massachusetts and Wisconsin due to her career and desire to stay close to family.[19]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Borowski, Greg (January 6, 2008). "Ideals Bind History Major to Urban Policing". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on April 26, 2014. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b McGrory, Brian (April 11, 1993). "New police chief in Chelsea seen as 'new breed'". Boston Globe. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  3. ^ McGrory, Brian (April 7, 1993). "Chelsea names new police chief for its beleaguered department". Boston Globe. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  4. ^ Lupo, Alan (May 1, 1994). "Chelsea Police Chief Ed Flynn is Running a Community-Based Force That May be a National Model". Boston Globe. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  5. ^ Lupo, Alan (January 9, 2003). "Chelsea Roots Remembered Crime Fighter Ahead of his Time". Boston Globe. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Flynn, Edward A. & MPD (2013). "Edward A. Flynn—Chief of Police". Milwaukee Police Department (MPD), City of Milwaukee. Archived from the original (professional autobiography) on February 14, 2012. Retrieved March 3, 2012. 
  7. ^ Goonan, Peter (October 16, 2007). "Sarno calls for Flynn to resign". The Republican. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  8. ^ a b c d Barry, Stephanie (June 19, 2009). "Former Springfield Police Chief Edward Flynn admits having affair in Milwaukee". The Springfield Republican. Retrieved 23 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "Mayor: Commissioner free to leave for Milwaukee". Associated Press. November 23, 2007. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  10. ^ Goonan, Peter (December 12, 2007). "Officials bid Flynn depart". The Republican. Retrieved 3 March 2012. 
  11. ^ a b WISN Staff (January 6, 2012). "Milwaukee Police Chief Sworn In For Second Term". WISN TV. Hearst Television Inc. Archived from the original on January 24, 2016. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  12. ^ Luthern, Ashley (July 2, 2015). "Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn wins reappointment". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  13. ^ https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/203983.pdf
  14. ^ Laasby, Gitte (June 3, 2011). "Chief slams firearm measure". Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Retrieved 3 March 2012. (Subscription required (help)). 
  15. ^ "Sheriff Clarke attacks Chief Flynn over response times, not knowing Milwaukee". 620 WTMJ Newsradio. WTMJ. Retrieved 16 April 2012. 
  16. ^ Laasby, Gitte (March 22, 2012). "Flynn Urges Strip Search Victims to Come Forward". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Archived from the original on December 30, 2014. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  17. ^ Poston, Ben & Walker, Don (May 24, 2012). "Walker Joins Call for Outside Audit of Flawed Crime Data". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  18. ^ Poston, Ben (May 22, 2012). "Hundreds of Assault Cases Misreported by Milwaukee Police Department". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  19. ^ a b c "Ex-Mass. public safety secretary, now Milwaukee police chief admits to affair". Boston Herald. June 19, 2009. Retrieved 25 February 2012. 
  20. ^ a b Bice, Daniel (June 19, 2009). "Flynn Had Affair With Journalist Who Wrote About Him". Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  21. ^ Bice, Daniel & MJS Staff (February 14, 2017). "Daniel Bice". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  22. ^ a b c d Murphy, Bruce (June 24, 2009). "The McBride Affair". Milwaukee Magazine. Retrieved February 14, 2017. 
  23. ^ The selective reporting by Bice, alleged by Murphy, specifically included "ignor[ing] information proving the contrary" to Bice's assertion of the affair being coincident to the McBride piece, including timeline evidence—dates of submission of the piece's drafts and final form—that were supplied by Murphy to Bice. See Murphy, Milwaukee Magazine, op. cit.
  24. ^ WISN Staff (July 30, 2012). "Chief Flynn Refuses Comment on Letter About Affair". WISN TV. Hearst Television Inc. Retrieved February 14, 2017. [Quote:] McBride's husband, former Waukesha District Attorney Paul Bucher, told 12 News he sent the letter to Flynn's wife. Copies were received by both the mayor's office and the Fire and Police Commission, which released it to WISN 12 News. 
Police appointments
Preceded by
John V. Polio
Braintree, Massachusetts Chief of Police
Succeeded by
Paul Frazier
Preceded by
Joslin Ham
Chelsea, Massachusetts Chief of Police
Succeeded by
Rafael P. Hernandez, Jr.
Preceded by
Robert A. Dreischer (Acting)
Arlington County, Virginia Chief of Police
Succeeded by
Steve Holl
Preceded by
James Jajuga
Massachusetts Secretary of Public Safety & Homeland Security
Succeeded by
Robert C. Haas
Preceded by
William J. Fitchet (Acting)
Springfield, Massachusetts Police Commissioner
Succeeded by
William J. Fitchet
Preceded by
Nannette Hegerty
Milwaukee Chief of Police
Succeeded by