Research & Innovation
Making Milwaukee’s streets safer: A data-driven approach to reducing gun violence By Chris Jenkins It was July 2006 when Dr. Mallory O’Brien began to notice a disturbing trend: Milwaukee was on pace to have twice as many tavern-related homicides as it had the previous year.
Commission, a multiagency effort to track gun violence data in real time, identify trends and devise solutions. O’Brien’s team convenes a monthly review meeting with
“I walked into an assistant chief’s office at the Milwaukee
leaders from the police department and district attorney’s office,
Police Department and said: ‘We’ve got a problem here. And
as well as probation and parole officers and other criminal justice
we’ve got to do something about it,’ ” O’Brien says. “And, so, within a couple of days, there was a law enforcement response focusing on problematic taverns. We don’t have to wait for months, sometimes years, to look at data. We can start looking at it right away and say: ‘Here’s something that’s happening. We’ve got to address it.’ And then we can get the right people in the room and make something happen.” The idea of collecting and analyzing gun violence data was
We don’t have to wait for months, sometimes years, to look at data. We can start looking at it right away ... .
almost unheard of when O’Brien got started in 1994. Today, she’s on the leading edge of Milwaukee’s efforts to study —
partners. The commission also holds separate meetings with
and ultimately reduce — gun-related deaths.
community organization leaders.
O’Brien is a clinical assistant professor in the College of Nursing and the founding director of Milwaukee’s Homicide Review
At those meetings, leaders gather background information to shed more light on the root causes that led to a particular violent