Police aim to rebrand Milwaukee’s crime image


Project is a step in the city's partnership with private industry.
Project is a step in the city's partnership with private industry.

In some jobs, success is measured by what doesn’t happen.


The Milwaukee Police Department wants to impart this concept to the Milwaukee community as a part of its new rebranding and recruiting campaign, launched in August.

Created by Milwaukee-based advertising agency Cramer-Krasselt, the campaign focuses on showing Milwaukeeans that city crime is decreasing.

“We are not just report-takers,” said Police Chief Edward Flynn at a press conference introducing the campaign. “Metric is not how fast we get to things that happened in the past. Metric is the reduction of crime, fear and disorder in the city of Milwaukee.”

Flynn said the campaign is built around the fact that there were nearly 3,000 fewer crime victims in Milwaukee last year than there were in 2007.

In the ads, new MPD crime statistics are publicized. For instance, the campaign says there was a 32 percent decrease in homicides, 2,945 fewer crimes and 10 percent fewer robberies in Milwaukee last year.

The ads aim to change perception by depicting incidents and people in scenarios where crime would normally be expected to occur, but in actuality the anticipated crimes do not happen. For instance, one TV ad features a woman walking in a dark alley at night to get her car. Although the audience expects the woman to be victimized, she gets to her car safely. The image is then accompanied by the statistic that there were 2,945 fewer crimes in Milwaukee last year.

The campaign also features MPD’s slogan, “Be a Force.” According to an MPD press release, this theme applies to police and civilians alike.

“’Be a Force’ refers not just to the police force but to the force and power of residents to effect positive change in their neighborhoods,” Flynn said in a statement released by MPD.

Cramer-Krasselt created the campaign pro bono. Its creation was at no cost to taxpayers. The cost of creating a similar campaign is estimated at $1 million for a private business.

Anne Schwartz, public relations manager for MPD, said the department informally spoke with several other advertising agencies to see if they were interested in creating a pro bono campaign. However, MPD decided to work with Cramer-Krasselt because of its national recognition and willingness to help.

At a press conference introducing the campaign, Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett supported this type of partnership between the city and private industry. Barrett said he believes this campaign marks another chapter in the city’s partnership with the private sector.

The campaign is designed to reach the citizens of Milwaukee by the use of various media outlets — TV, radio, outdoor, online and print. Like the campaign itself, the ad space for it was completely donated as a community service effort.

Milwaukee area companies donating advertising space to MPD include WISN-TV, WTMJ-TV, Clear Channel Radio and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Schwartz said the recruiting campaign features real MPD officers and is set to run on all media outlets throughout the city in the foreseeable future.

MPD currently has no indication of how the campaign has influenced its recruitment numbers.