Edward Flynn

Inducted June 2014

Nominated by Larry Sherman, Cambridge University and University of Maryland


Chief Edward A. Flynn was appointed Chief of the Milwaukee Police Department in January of 2008. On January 7, 2012, he was sworn in for a second term. He commands an agency of 2,000 sworn officers and 700 civilians, serving a city of over 600,000 residents. He was formerly Police Commissioner in Springfield, Massachusetts from 2006 to 2008, and served as Secretary of Public Safety under Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney from January 2003 until he took command in Springfield. Prior to his appointment as Secretary of Public Safety, he served for five years as the Chief of Police in Arlington, Virginia. Chief Flynn began his career in the Jersey City Police Department, where he was promoted through the ranks of officer, sergeant, lieutenant, captain and inspector. He also served as the Chief of Police in Braintree and subsequently Chelsea, Massachusetts.

Chief Flynn holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from LaSalle University in Philadelphia, a Masters degree in Criminal Justice from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York and completed all coursework in the Ph.D. program in Criminal Justice from City University in New York. Chief Flynn is a graduate of the FBI National Academy, the National Executive Institute and was a National Institute of Justice Pickett Fellow at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He is a member of the Police Executive Research Forum, the IACP Executive Committee and a member of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Executive Session on Policing. Chief Flynn has been awarded the prestigious Gary Hayes Memorial Award for Police Leadership from the Police Executive Research Forum.

Evidence-Based Research and Practice:

Chief Flynn has been an advocate for a more evidence-based approach in policing for some time, and has worked to bring scientific evidence and data-driven policing to all of the agencies he has led. Most recently, in 2010-14, he provided vital support to the long-term follow-up of the 1987-88 Milwaukee Domestic Violence Experiment conducted by the University of Maryland. Lawrence Sherman writes that Chief Flynn’s “total commitment to providing criminal histories over two decades for almost 2400 people, his supporting endorsements of efforts to obtain death records from the state of Wisconsin, and his open-minded approach to letting the evidence chips fall where they may are a model of research partnership for police and universities. The important results of this effort will have major effects on the development of evidence-based policing, with the finding that victims may be more harmed than helped by arresting their abusers creating a crucible for dealing with facts as they are, rather than as we may wish them to be.”

Additional initiatives taken under Chief Flynn’s command include a fear of crime reduction intervention, a place-based policing initiative with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, another initiative targeting hot spots where crime and disorder is particularly damaging quality of life, and participating in the Project Safe Neighborhoods Safe Streets Initiative. Following an increase in firearm-related violent crimes, Milwaukee Police initiated a micro-based strategy using the Koper curve principle. Chief Flynn has also utilized use of force research results to implement both formal and informal procedures in the Milwaukee Police Department.

Chief Flynn has also supported NIJ-funded Locally Initiated Research Projects, and has been an active member of the NIJ-funded Harvard Executive Sessions. However, he is especially known for his strong and unwavering support of scientific evidence. Cynthia Lum of George Mason University remarks that “Chief Flynn is one of those few police leaders who stands up for science, facts and research evidence even when it may not be the most popular thing to do either inside or outside of the agency. He is also committed to ensuring his officers are trained in the concepts of evidence-based policing.”

Contributions to Grants, Publications, and Projects:

  • Braga, Anthony A., Edward A. Flynn, George L. Kelling, and Christine M. Cole. (2011). Moving the Work of Criminal Investigators Towards Crime Control. New Perspectives in Policing (Harvard Kennedy School series). Washington DC: National Institute of Justice.
  • Bash, Chadwick, Maria Amato, and Michele Sacks. “Chelsea, Massachusetts: A City Helps Its Diverse People Get Along.” Practitioner Perspectives (Jan. 2000): 1-6. Print.
  • Carter, Maj. Gen. Joseph C. “IACP Foundation: Building a Foundation for Future Leaders.” Police Chief July 2008: n. pag. Print. Chief Flynn’s Arlington Police Department served as a test site for the Leadership in Police Organization course.
  • Fischer, Craig. Leadership Matters: Police Chiefs Talk about Their Careers. Washington, D.C.: Police Executive Research Forum, 2009. Print.
  • Flynn, Edward A., and Jane Wiseman. “Grant Management.” Better Government Competition. Pioneer Institute, 19 July 2004. Web. 11 June 2014.
  • Fridell, Lorie A., and Mary Ann Wycoff. Community Policing: The Past, Present, and Future. Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum, 2004. Print.
  • Geller, William A., and Darrel W. Stephens, eds. Local Government Police Management: Study Guide. Washington, D.C.: Published for the ICMA U by the International City/County Management Association, 2003. Print.
  • “Group One Report: A UCR for Disorder.” National Institute of Justice: Research in Action (Nov. 1997): 3-4. Print.
  • Kirchhoff, Bill, Charlotte Lansinger, and James Burack. Command Performance: A Career Guide for Police Executives. Washington, D.C.: Police Executive Research Forum, 1999. Print.
  • Leading from the Front: Law Enforcement’s Role in Combating and Preparing for Domestic Terrorism: The International Association of Chiefs of Police’s Response to the Attacks on the United States of America on September 11, 2001. Alexandria, VA: International Association of Chiefs of Police, 2002. Print.
  • Murphy, Gerard R., Chuck Wexler, Heather J. Davies, and Martha R. Plotkin. Managing a Multijurisdictional Case: Identifying the Lessons Learned from the Sniper Investigation. Washington, D.C.: Police Executive Research Forum, 2004. Print.
  • Protecting Your Community from Terrorism: The Strategies for Loco/ Law Enforcement Series. Washington, D.C.: Police Executive Research Forum, Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, 2003. Print.
  • “Should We Expect Police Activities to Impact on Measures of Crime, Disorder, and Fear, and How Will We Know?” National Institute of Justice: Research in Action (Dec. 1996): 14. Print.
  • Vila, Bryan. Tired Cops: The Importance of Managing Police Fatigue. Washington, D.C.: Police Executive Research Forum, 2000. Print. Chief Flynn’s Arlington Police Department served as a test site.
  • Wester, S. R., Arndt, D., Sedivy, S. K., & Arndt, L. (2010). Male police officers and stigma associated with counseling: The role of anticipated risk, anticipated benefit, and gender role conflict. Psychology of Men and Masculinity. 11(4), 286-302. Milwaukee Police Department took part in the study.
  • Murphy, Gerald, Martha R. Plotkin, Edward A. Flynn, Jane Perlov, Kevin Stafford, and Darrel W. Stephens. (2003). Protecting Your Community from Terrorism: Strategies for Local Law Enforcement (Volume 1: Improving Local-Federal Partnerships). Washington, DC: Police Executive Research Forum.
  • Sherman, Lawrence and Edward Flynn. (2014). Arrests for Misdemeanor Domestic Abuse: A Crucible of Evidence-Based Policing. Translational Criminology Magazine (Spring, 2014). Center for Evidence-Based Crime Policy, George Mason University.