Police Share Crime Prevention Tips, Update on Carjackings

At the invitation of our alderman, Nik Kovac, Milwaukee Police Department Asst. Chief Jim Harpole discussed various crime issues affecting the City of Milwaukee and Police District One with more than 100 people who attended the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood monthly meeting March 2, 2016.

We learned from Harpole that carjackings citywide have dropped 67% since the implementation of the 90-day task force. Harpole suggested that the drop could be due, in part, to “word spreading” among would-be offenders that the gun court and the juvenile justice system are taking this crime seriously and issuing harsh penalties.

Asst. Police Chief Jim Harpole

Asst. Police Chief Jim Harpole

Carjacking, according to Harpole, is being examined at the “highest levels” of city government. While it is a citywide issue, the MPD has determined that the prevailing trend is that the carjackers committing crimes in District One are likely coming from District Three. Therefore, police resources are being directed to District Three to stem the flow of carjacking to our neighborhoods.

Interestingly, Harpole also described new technology called STAR Chase Pursuit Management Technology that is being used to track carjackers. This system allows police to launch a GPS device from their vehicle that sticks to the criminal’s car and thus allows police to track the carjackers without the need for dangerous high speed pursuits. However, a significant drawback is that the GPS device has problems adhering to cars in cold weather. With respect to high speed chases, AC Harpole reiterated the MPD’s current pursuit policy, explaining there is no pursuit except in the situation of violent crimes such as armed carjackings, but that even when pursuit is justified the officers are required to exercise due regard for public safety.

An issue frustrating many residents is the question of how to get timely and accurate information regarding crime in their neighborhoods. Harpole acknowledged that the MAP system, which was purchased in 2005, is now outdated. He thanked Alderman Kovac, who, in his role as the chairman of the Common Council’s Finance and Personnel Committee, has been instrumental in allocating funds for the purchase of a customized records management system for the MPD that will eventually allow for the implementation of a public platform for disseminating realtime crime information to neighborhoods. The use of the crime notifications from “Spotcrime” was discussed at the meeting. Harpole as well as residents and Officer Jose Alba pointed out the limitations of Spotcrime. For one, Spotcrime is not actual crime reports. Rather, it is a call log and can be misleading because many of the calls do not actually involve crimes, much less crimes in our area. Harpole encouraged residents to continue using the Nextdoor website and app (and sign up for the “Historic Water Tower” neighborhood to receive applicable updates), which is where Officer Jose Alba has been providing timely, detailed, and reliable reports of any significant crimes in our police district.

IMG_0514The question of police staffing was briefly discussed at the meeting. Harpole and Kovac explained that MPD has a robust police force and that Kovac, as chairman of the Finance and Personnel Committee, has successfully managed to assist in preserving the size of the force in the face of budgetary pressures while other major cities in the U.S. have drastically reduced their police forces. Kovac explained that given budgetary restraints, over the past decade the percentage of city employees has been reduced by 10%, whereas the police force has seen a relatively minor decrease hovering around 3%. Currently, there are about 1,900 working officers, and 1,000 of those are patrol officers. Harpole commented that this is a “very big force” relative to the size of the city and the police forces of other major cities in the U.S.

Following the extensive question-and-answer session with Harpole, Officer Jose Alba along with 1st District Capt. Eric Moore offered home security tips for residents.

These included:

  • Using landscaping as a deterrent (e.g. thorny bushes under windows but not too high as to provide a hiding spot for thieves);
  • Avoid leaving notes on doors for delivery persons;
  • Get security company signs for your yard (even fake ones are a deterrent);
  • Get a “beware of dog” sign, as thieves don’t like dogs, even little ones that can alert homeowners with their barking;
  • While on vacation: stop your mail, notify the district police for extra patrols, do not post vacation photos on Facebook during the vacation, and do not put your home address on luggage tags because baggage handlers can be networked with criminals who will then target your home;
  • Leave a radio or television on when you’re not home in the day. Officer Alba also recommended a device called Fake TV that mimics the flickering light of television and can be set on a timer when you’re away from home;
  • Call for a Target Hardening Assessment from a District One officer if you feel you need help assessing your home’s security;
  • Use motion detector lights;
  • Reinforce flimsy doors to garages.
Officer Jose Alba

Officer Jose Alba

Officer Alba also handed out brochures that addressed basic home security suggestions. HWTN will continue to provide these brochures and other security handouts at future meetings. When we asked about the number of burglaries throughout District One since the beginning of 2016, we were told there had been 49. Most of those burglaries involved UWM student housing and that number also includes reports of items stolen from garages.



– Laura Shipley, Chairman, Historic Water Tower Neighborhood Initiative for Public Safety Committee

Police Discuss Carjackings With 90 Residents At HWTN Meeting

Milwaukee Police Capt. Eric Moore, head of the department’s First District, gave details on the recent East Side carjacking spree to about 90 people attending Historic Water Tower Neighborhood’s monthly meeting Wednesday Jan. 6, 2015.

image1Moore and several community liaison officers who also attended the HWTN meeting spoke and took questions from residents for 90 minutes about the crimes, police actions and what residents can do to improve their safety.

Moore detailed a carjacking on N. Farwell on Monday morning (see police email below). He also noted that one suspect, 16, had been living in a home for juvenile offenders on the 2500 block N. Murray Ave. after spending time at Lincoln Hills Schools for Boys. Another of the carjackers was a young woman, 17, he said. One of the assailants was arrested for a carjacking later this week in Fond du Lac.

Residents raised many issues, including fears about safety, concerns about recidivism and the desire for a continuation of increased police presence after a 90-day task force in the area expires Feb. 29.

Advice and comments from police a block watch captain from the Sherman Park neighborhood who also spoke and Ald. Nik Kovac included:

  • Police cannot keep a permanent enhanced presence due to crimes in other parts of the city, but they will respond as necessary to spikes in crime.
  • Residents should trust their instincts when sensing danger and act accordingly. Don’t hesitate to call 911 if possibly in danger.
  • Carjackers who have been arrested have told police that their ideal victims are women, older men and people distracted on their phones.
  • Residents should get to know their neighbors and be able to contact them about suspicious activity or crimes.
  • Police and Ald. Nik Kovac, who also spoke at the meeting, said crime info will be made available via HWTN’s Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/HistoricWaterTowerNeighborhood/, and Nextdoor.com’s “Historic Water Tower” group, https://historicwatertowerwi.nextdoor.com
  • At a member’s request, MPD agreed to provide HWTN with “Block Watch” signs that can be placed in home windows.

During the meeting, some residents:

  • Asked about police tactics and strategies to deal with carjackings and other crimes, and some felt they didn’t get a sufficient answer.
  • Suggested hiring private security, paid for by neighbors.
  • Raised concerns that the criminal justice system was too lenient on offenders and wanted to follow defendants through the process.
  • Wanted to see offenders mentored.
  • Asked about whether residents should carry concealed weapons.

HWTN plans to meet with Moore and other officers in the near future to continue to improve police notifications to residents and to set up a regular monthly briefing between the police and an HWTN committee about crime trends and issues.

From: Moore, Eric

Sent: Tuesday, January 05, 2016 11:04 PM

To: Kovac, Nik

Cc: Cervantes, Amanda

Subject: Farwell Avenue Carjacking Investigation

Good Evening Alderman,

Below is per your request.

On Monday, January 4, 2016, at approximately 6:20AM, in the 2900 block of N. Farwell Avenue, a 56 year-old Franklin (WI) woman parked her Toyota SUV in front of her son’s residence.  As she was sitting in her vehicle, she observed a dark auto drive past her several times (in a northerly direction on N. Farwell Avenue).  At one point, the dark auto made a U-turn and pulled behind the victim’s auto.  Two of the three occupants in the suspect vehicle (dark auto) exited their vehicle and (they) approached the victim’s auto on the passenger side.  The main actor pointed a firearm at the victim and demanded that she “get out of the car”.  The victim complied and the two actors jumped into her vehicle and drove off.  Those two actors were followed by the third actor who was driving the suspect vehicle (dark auto).  The victim was not physically harmed.

Later Monday, at approximately 1:30PM, three occupants (actors) riding in the Farwell Avenue victim’s stolen Toyota SUV, approached a 40 Year-old Wauwatosa woman in the parking lot of the Walmart store located at 4140 W. Greenfield Avenue, West Milwaukee.  Two of the actors, one of which was armed with a handgun, approached the victim and attempted to take her Mercedes Benz automobile.  The actors were unsuccessful in their attempt and they fled the parking lot in the Toyota SUV without obtaining anything from the intended victim who was not physically harmed.

Shortly after 1:40PM, three occupants (actors) riding in the Farwell Avenue victim’s stolen Toyota SUV approached a 55 year-old Oak Creek man in the parking lot of the HOBO home improvement store located at 3545 S. 27th Street, Milwaukee.  Two of actors, while armed with handguns, approached the man and demanded his wallet, money, and 4-door Lincoln automobile.  The victim complied and the two armed actors got into his auto and drove off.  The stolen Toyota SUV followed the Lincoln off of the HOBO parking lot.  The victim was not physically harmed.

At approximately 3:45PM, four occupants (actors) riding in the Farwell Avenue victim’s stolen Toyota SUV pulled alongside a Honda vehicle that was being driven by a 25 year-old South Milwaukee woman in the 2500 block of W. Maple Street, Milwaukee.  The Toyota SUV suddenly veered in front of the Honda cutting it off.  Two actors exited the Toyota and approached the woman (victim) as she sat in her Honda.  One of the actors was armed with a handgun and he ordered the victim out of her vehicle.  The victim complied and the two actors got into her vehicle and drove off.  The other two actors then followed in the stolen Toyota SUV.  The victim was not physically harmed.

At approximately 3:55PM (ten minutes after the Honda offense), two occupants (actors) riding in the Farwell victim’s stolen Toyota SUV passed a Chrysler vehicle that was being driven by a 45 year-old Milwaukee woman in the 2300 block of W. Maple Street, Milwaukee.  The Toyota SUV suddenly stopped in the roadway, causing the Chrysler to also stop behind it.  One of the two actors in the Toyota SUV exited the vehicle and approached the Chrysler.  That actor pointed a handgun at the victim and ordered her to get out of her car and hand over her purse.  The victim complied.  The armed actor got into the victim’s vehicle and drove off.  The other actor then followed in the stolen Toyota SUV.  The victim was not physically harmed.

At approximately 11:40PM, Milwaukee Police Officers observed the Farwell Avenue victim’s stolen Toyota SUV and the above-mentioned stolen Chrysler on a near-south side residential street.  A foot chase and a vehicular pursuit ensued, and two actors were immediately taken into custody.  These actors are ages 19 and 17.  On the afternoon of Tuesday, January 5th, a third actor (age 18) was taken into custody, and the Milwaukee Police Department is currently seeking several other identified actors who are believed to have participated to some degree in this crime spree.

It is important to note that, one of the main actors in these offenses is in custody and has admitted involvement in all of the afore-mentioned criminal offenses.  At the time of the offenses (yesterday), this main actor was an absconder from a youth home that is located in the area where the Toyota SUV was taken.  This actor was recently released from a Wisconsin Correctional Facility following a period of confinement that resulted from a Robbery Adjudication.

The MPD and West Milwaukee PD investigations are continuing.

Captain EJM

Police District Captain to Speak on East Side Crime Trends, Ald. Kovac to Give Neighborhood Update Jan. 6

Milwaukee Police District #1 Capt. Eric Moore will speak and take questions about East Side crime trends at the 7 p.m. Wednesday Jan. 6, 2016, meeting of the Historic Water Tower Neighborhood trustees.

Ald. Nik Kovac will also give HWTN a neighborhood update.

MOOREEricJMoore’s attendance at the meeting follows a recent spate of carjackings and an armed street robbery and assault in the immediate area.

Moore is the new captain of Police District #1, which covers the East Side and Downtown.

The meeting is open to the public and takes place in Lake Park’s Marcia Coles Community Room, in the Lake Park Pavilion building beneath Lake Park Bistro. Cookies and coffee will be offered starting at 6:45 p.m.

According to information on the Milwaukee Police Department website:

Captain Eric Moore has been a member of the Milwaukee Police Department since 1980. He began his career as a Police Aide and was later promoted to the ranks of Police Officer, Detective, and Lieutenant of Detectives. Prior to heading District #1, Moore was Captain of Police in the Criminal Investigation Bureau assigned to complete special projects. Before arriving at the CIB, he was the Commander of the Fourth Police District. During his career, he has received numerous meritorious awards for outstanding service. Captain Moore holds a Master of Business Administration-Public Administration from Concordia University. In addition, he holds a Bachelors of Science Degree in the Administration of Justice, and an Associate’s Degree in Police Science.

kovac-headshot-20151Ald. Kovac has been alderman for Milwaukee’s 3rd District, which includes the East Side, Riverwest and North Downtown neighborhoods, since April 2008. He serves as chair of the Common Council’s Finance & Personnel Committee and is a member of the Zoning and Neighborhood Development and Capital Improvements Committees.

Kovac’s work extends outside City Hall and throughout his district as chair of the East Side Architectural Review Board and member of the Milwaukee Arts Board, the Milwaukee Public Library Board of Trustees, the Milwaukee County Federated Library Board, the Park East Advisory Committee, the Lakefront Development Advisory Commission and the Riverside University High School Foundation Board of Directors.

Kovac was born and raised on Milwaukee’s East Side in the HWTN area. He attended Milwaukee Public Schools—from McDowell Montessori School to Golda Meir Elementary School, and Jackie Robinson Middle School through Riverside High School. While at Riverside, he earned more than 20 college credits from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. Attending Harvard University and graduating cum laude with a degree in mathematics, Kovac became a beat reporter and then a newspaper editor in New York City. He returned to Milwaukee to work for the Shepherd Express and Riverwest Currents.