National Night Out

Police Chief Art Howell gives a speech during the National Night Out kickoff event on Wisconsin Street on Aug. 1, 2017.

RACINE — Following Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn’s recent retirement announcement, Racine Police Chief Art Howell said he has fielded inquiries from Milwaukee stakeholders about the job opening.

Howell’s contract with the City of Racine expires on April 2 this year. He has been the city’s police chief since April 2, 2012.

However, Howell said in an email to The Journal Times: “As of this time, I remain focused on moving the Racine Police Department forward.”

Flynn announced his retirement on Monday and his last day with the Milwaukee Police Department is expected to be Feb. 16.

The day Howell received the first inquiry regarding the Milwaukee position, he said he met with members of the Racine Community Outpost to discuss Community Oriented Police houses in Racine. Racine Community Outpost Inc. is the nonprofit that funds and supports the COP houses.

In Milwaukee, officials there are in the process of acquiring their very first community oriented policing house similar to the houses here in Racine that give police a home base in the community where they can do programming and work directly with residents in problematic areas.

Howell said the Racine Police Department has hosted several meetings with elected officials and stakeholders from Milwaukee for the purpose of sharing best practices for neighborhood stabilization.

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“We look forward to sharing local best practices with our neighbors to the north,” Howell said.

That is separate from the Flynn announcement, Howell said.

Challenges ahead

While Howell’s contract expires soon, Howell said there are several major projects that may affect his future plans. Among them is the Foxconn development, which is expected to bring more than 10,000 more people to the area to work. He also cited discussions taking place pertaining to the future of the West Sixth Street COP house as well as the new safety building that has been proposed.

City officials have said the city’s current safety building at 730 Center St. — which includes the police station, Fire Department offices and Fire Station No. 1 — doesn’t do a good job housing a modern police department. Last year, the city drafted a request for proposals for a feasibility study of the building.

In 2016, the last time Howell’s contract was up for renewal, he was a finalist for a police chief job in Rockford, Ill. But he withdrew from that selection process after the Police and Fire Commission voted to extend his contract.

Rockford, like Milwaukee, is a city plagued by violent crime issues. Milwaukee, Wisconsin’s most populous city, has a population of 595,047. Rockford, Illinois’ third-largest city, has a population of 152,871. Racine, Wisconsin’s fifth-largest city, has a population of 78,199.

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Managing Editor

Stephanie Jones is the managing editor for The Journal Times. To stay informed about what is going on in Racine County, subscribe at journaltimes.com/subscribenow. It's only about 10 cents per day for a digital subscription.

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