By Anne E. Schwartz Special to Published Jul 13, 2007 at 4:52 PM

Surely something good must be happening in a city of nearly 600,000 people. The reason we know that is because every member of the Milwaukee Police Department lives in the city of Milwaukee. We don’t just work here, we raise families here and we play here.

But there is a growing frustration at the Department from Chief Nannette Hegerty all the way through the ranks of the 2,600 men and women who work here with what we see as the strong media emphasis on crime at the expense of sharing the good news about the City of Milwaukee.

We’re not throwing everyone into the same pot. is allowing us to start a blog on their Web site and have done several stories informing their readers on the Department’s activities. To their credit, we have had many positive stories done by some of the media outlets here. One station, Fox 6, has not just once but twice held a phone bank to highlight the need for Block Watch groups in the city of Milwaukee -- with tremendous response.

But each day, immediately upon waking, we turn on our television sets to see nearly every station leading their morning newscast with an overnight crime story -- often a non-fatal shooting between two people arguing over drugs or a relationship and usually before they have the whole story on what happened.

Would it surprise anyone to know that a sign hangs in one local newsroom that reads, “Crank up the mayhem?” Now there’s a positive message.

The Milwaukee Police Department routinely sends out numbers to the media that tell the true story of the dent the hard-working men and women of this Department are making in violent crime. Those officers consistently ask, “Why do the media always take those numbers and find one person in an area who says something negative about the police or someone who says the Police aren’t doing enough when the majority of the neighborhood is saying differently?” They ask why video of violence must be played over and over, long after an incident is past.

Recently, we asked one news station if they would profile four dangerous suspects who were wanted on homicide warrants. We had photographs of the wanted suspects and a homicide commander ready to be interviewed. We were told the idea wasn’t interesting enough to those at the station’s morning news meeting.

We put a television reporter out with our Harbor Patrol, long before the officers assigned there dove on the wreckage of a medical plane that crashed into Lake Michigan. The officers gave a detailed account of how the Harbor Patrol and Dive Team work. After several hours of shooting out on the boat, back at the station the reporter was told it “wasn’t interesting enough.” The story never ran. They were very interested when those same officers made national news.

The emphasis on the negative and the violent is why we believe that people who live in the suburbs watch the news and are left with the impression that Milwaukee is a violent place -- one they don’t want to visit. Those of us who live here know that we have one of the safest downtown areas in the country. And those of us who actually live Downtown know that walking the city streets near restaurants and entertainment venues even late at night, is safe.

We know that if you are not selling drugs, settling an argument with a gun or engaging in gang activity, that you are largely safe in most neighborhoods in the City of Milwaukee. We know that if you live in a neighborhood where this occurs, we encourage you to work with the Police so that little girls can play outside and jump rope in peace. Participants of large national conventions routinely comment on how safe and welcoming our city is. The numbers bear this out -- it’s not just anecdotal.

We don’t want the media to put their heads in the sand and ignore crime -- and we’re not doing that either. We also know the media are not responsible for crime -- but they are a large part of the perception people have about the safety of this city. Starting our day with the latest videotape of police tape is not a fair representation of what is happening here. 

Anne E. Schwartz Special to

Anne E. Schwartz is a veteran award-winning print and broadcast journalist who has worked for more than 25 years in the Milwaukee area writing about public safety issues. She was the reporter who broke the Jeffrey Dahmer story while at the former Milwaukee Journal in 1991 and wrote a book on the case, "The Man Who Could Not Kill Enough: The Story of Milwaukee's Jeffrey Dahmer." She is a nationally-recognized trainer on crisis communications and risk assessment for both the public and private sector.

Anne lives in Milwaukee's Third Ward. She enjoys cooking and takes culinary classes when she travels around the country and the world. She loves riding Harley-Davidson motorcycles with her partner Mark.