Program Goals/Key Personnel
The Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission (MHRC) attempts to reduce homicides and nonfatal shootings through a multilevel, multidisciplinary, and multiagency homicide review process. The goals of the commission are to establish and support homicide prevention and intervention strategies using strategic problem analysis.
The MHRC provides a unique forum for addressing violence in Milwaukee, Wis. The program is based on the involvement of law enforcement professionals, criminal justice professionals, and community service providers who meet regularly to exchange information regarding the city’s homicides and other violent crimes to identify methods of prevention from both public health and criminal justice perspectives. The MHRC makes recommendations based on trends identified through the case review process. These recommendations range from micro-level strategies and tactics to macro-level policy change. Many of the recommendations made to date have been implemented.
The MHRC was established to address the city’s persistent lethal violence. By creating MHRC, the hope was to better understand the nature of homicide through strategic problem analysis, to develop innovative responses to the problem, and to focus limited enforcement and intervention activities on risks that contributed to homicide.
The MHRC is a multitiered intervention with four levels. Each level consists of participation by a different set of agencies and stakeholders. The levels of intervention reviews are:
- Real-Time Review: The Milwaukee Police Department responds to each homicide that occurs in the intervention districts by immediate response, investigation, increased patrols, and apprehension of identified subjects. Social services agencies are then notified within 48 hours of the incident and provide immediate crisis intervention, case management, mentoring, emotional support, mental health counseling, and home-based health care to victims’ families.
- Criminal Justice Review: The criminal justice review involves a monthly assessment of each homicide. Groups that may take part in this review include the community–police liaison, district officers, and members of the violent crimes, gang crimes, homicide, and vice units. Others include the District Attorney, the City Attorney, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Milwaukee Public Schools, the Milwaukee Housing Authority, a medical examiner, the Department of Corrections, the Wisconsin Department of Justice, U.S. Marshals, the Milwaukee High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, the Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. This review concentrates on developing descriptions of homicides in the districts. Reviews are conducted by MHRC staff through PowerPoint presentations. Incidents are listed and reviewed one at a time. Meeting participants then weigh in on each case and provide information they have received on each incident. An MHRC staff member records each session.
- Community Service Provider Review: The community service provider review incorporates insights from various community members based on their organizations. Meetings are designed to look at closed cases and incidents and to determine what community-level factors contributed to the crime. The incidents are looked at retrospectively and with increased scrutiny. This information is then used in the criminal justice review to raise awareness and assist in handling current cases and establishing preventive community resources.
- Community Review: The fourth and final component of MHRC is the community review meetings. These are designed to educate the community about the nature of homicides and shootings in the intervention districts. This part of the process also is intended to attract interest from other community members and stakeholders in MHRC. Aggregate data from the aforementioned components is presented, and community members were briefed on existing prevention interventions.
Azrael, Braga, and O’Brien (2013) found that between January 1999 and December 2006, the implementation of the Milwaukee Homicide Review Commission was associated with a statistically significant 52 percent decrease in the monthly count of homicides in the intervention districts. During this same time, the control districts experienced a nonsignificant 9.2 percent decrease in homicides (controlling for other covariates).