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Van Hollen Discusses Department of Justice Assistance In Fighting Crime In Milwaukee; Stresses Cooperation and Collaboration of Law Enforcement Leaders
MILWAUKEE - Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen hosted a ceremony today to open the new Department of Justice office located in the State Office Building in Milwaukee at 819 N. 6th Street. The Attorney General addressed the attendees, which included law enforcement, government, and community leaders from throughout Milwaukee. Also presenting remarks were Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisolm, and Milwaukee Chief of Police Edward Flynn.
In his remarks, Van Hollen discussed his participation in the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional review process comprised of law enforcement and community service providers who meet regularly to exchange information on the city's homicides and develop law enforcement and other strategies to reduce homicides. (For more information about the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, see http://www.city.milwaukee.gov/HomicideReviewComm22506.htm).
Van Hollen also discussed the Department of Justice's involvement assisting other law enforcement agencies to enhance public safety in Milwaukee. Van Hollen cited increased efficiencies in DNA analysts as a major step forward:
"The DNA backlog is not merely a number," Van Hollen said. "It means there is a victim whose offender remains at large. It means there is an unsolved case where our finite law enforcement resources might be unnecessarily tracking down dead end leads when DNA Analysis could identify or exclude all known suspects. When I took office, I knew there was perhaps nothing I can do to help address crime in Milwaukee more than provide faster turnaround of DNA evidence and eliminate the DNA backlog that had grown to enormous proportions. Using existing resources, we have been able to cut into a backlog that had increased by 1,200 cases in 2005 and 2006. In 2007, the State Crime Lab in Milwaukee, which analyzes cases submitted by law enforcement agencies from Milwaukee and nearby counties, processed more DNA cases than it ever had before. Not just more. Much, much more. In 2006, the Milwaukee State Crime Lab worked DNA on 530 cases. In 2007, the Milwaukee State Crime Lab worked 1,044 cases. That's a 97% improvement in efficiency. That's hundreds of more Milwaukee cases getting the attention they deserve."
Van Hollen also cited the Department of Justice's increased assistance to Milwaukee provided by Investigative Services Bureau of the Division of Criminal Investigation. That bureau uses new technologies to provide investigative and analytical support to help solve crimes and assist prosecutors in the presentation of cases. "In terms of cases worked, in 2007, we more than doubled the assistance this bureau provided to assist in the investigation of Milwaukee County homicides as compared to the previous year," Van Hollen said. "And we quadrupled our assistance in all violent crimes."
Finally, Van Hollen cited plans for new initiatives to complement ongoing services and other collaborative enterprises. Van Hollen cited increased Department of Justice assistance to the District Attorney's program to address threats to witnesses, increased cooperation with the federal government relating to immigration and gangs, and the Wisconsin Crime Alert Network as examples.
The Department of Justice's Office at the Milwaukee State Office Building will primarily be used by the Attorney General and Executive Staff to meet with Milwaukee area officials and members of the public. The office will be regularly staffed by the Director of the Office of Crime Victim Services, who will split time between Milwaukee and Madison. The office space will also be used by visiting Department of Justice attorneys, investigators, and other professionals.
In addition to the new office, the Department of Justice maintains a permanent regional Milwaukee office for agents and other professionals of the Division of Criminal Investigation in the city of Milwaukee. One of the Department's three state crime laboratories is also located in Milwaukee.
In addition to the opening ceremony, the Wisconsin Department of Justice conducted two 75-minute safety education workshops for Milwaukee County residents today at the Milwaukee State Office Building. The first workshop was on Identity Theft, the second was on Internet Safety. The workshops are free and open to the general public.