The Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, through a partnership with the Mayor’s Office, Milwaukee Police Department, and Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office developed a unique strategy for reviewing homicide cases by using problem-solving approaches that seek not only to solve homicides but also provide opportunities for prevention. Based on the success demonstrated with this model program, the COPS Office has awarded the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission funding in the form of a cooperative agreement to work with its partners to provide training and technical assistance to other urban departments that could benefit from this approach. This unique model program seeks to prevent not only homicides, but also related events such as nonfatal shootings and near-fatal domestic violence incidents.
Through the homicide review model developed in Milwaukee, different members of the criminal justice community come together monthly (e.g., from the District Attorney’s Office, Medical Examiner, Department of Corrections, and ATF, etc.) to examine the area’s most recent homicides for possible opportunities for prevention, intervention, and suppression.
Milwaukee’s homicide review prevention approach, which has been in operation for the last five years, has evolved into a proven strategy that blends community policing and prevention into the systematic review of homicides. The review process brings to light the myriad issues that lead to violence and provides opportunities to pull together criminal justice and community partners to address the issues, while at the same time developing a strong partnership with those entities.
This model program has been evaluated through a grant from the National Institute of Justice. That evaluation found a marked and statistically significant effect. Police districts where the program had been implemented experienced a 52 percent decrease in the monthly count of homicides, compared to a 9 percent decrease in control police districts. The evaluation concluded that “the homicide review process adds considerable value to understanding the nature of urban homicide problems, [while] crafting appropriate interventions to address underlying risks associated with homicides, implementing innovative strategies to address these risks, and assessing the impacts of these strategies.”
This two year cooperative agreement, funded under the COPS Community Policing Development program, is centered on the delivery of peer-to-peer training and technical assistance in the homicide review process. Initially, the team from Milwaukee will identify only one other urban police department in which they will provide training and technical assistance. Based on this pilot site, they will then expand training and technical assistance to other departments. A total of eight multi-jurisdictional trainings are planned, with training provided to approximately six law enforcement agencies at each session. Expecting two trainees per agency, the project hopes to train a total of 96 individuals across 48 agencies. As part of the cooperative agreement, the Milwaukee team also will provide direct technical assistance to agencies and will make their training materials, including manuals and guidebooks, available on the website of the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission.
The goal of this cooperative agreement is to increase the number and variety of criminal justice professionals that work together to identify, design, implement, and evaluate homicide prevention strategies. This project represents a pivotal opportunity to help institutionalize homicide reviews as a unique community policing strategy for violence prevention across the nation. At the conclusion of the two year project, a final report will document the objectives achieved through this training, present an assessment of training and technical assistance provided, and offer recommendations for continuing to promote and enhance the homicide review prevention strategy.
The Milwaukee team has identified the Chicago, Flint, Indianapolis, and New Orleans Police Departments as interested recipients of training and technical assistance in homicide reviews. Other urban law enforcement agencies that are interested in participation may contact the COPS Project Manager, John Markovic or the Director of the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission, Mallory O’Brien, Ph.D..
Senior Social Science Analyst
The COPS Office
Mallory O’Brien, PH.D.
Director of the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission