Chief, Milwaukee Police Department
Flynn: I was brought into the department to oversee technological, cultural, and operational changes, to move us in a new direction. Change is always difficult, and sometimes you need change to be visual or touchable. We started with a branding campaign, aimed at the public, that communicates a decrease in crime.
Jacobs: Government organizations are seen as complicated and cold. That's where design helps. The direction for the site was to simplify all the information. We wanted humanity, not people kissing babies or fake imagery. We wanted real people, on call—with guns.
Flynn: We used to have a hard time getting news out in a meaningful way. If you're in the public eye and a news organization decides to cover you, you get a sound bite and no one looks into the pedigree of the quote. So we decided to have a stand-alone website for the Milwaukee Police Department. It solved my problem of communicating with the public without a media filter. And Cramer-Krasselt worked on the idea of how to connect our site to Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets.
Jacobs: Most police sites, from Boston to Los Angeles, are just sheets of texts and links. The same amount of emphasis is placed on most-wanted criminals as it is for paying parking tickets. We built this site to create more opportunities for people to help. The point of putting most-wanted photos front and center is that someone might recognize the faces.
Flynn: That endless scrolling business? I think the ability to navigate the page that way, and get a heck of a lot of news at once, is a remarkable asset.
Jacobs: A site might be full of information, but people like fast and easy. And visuals are a quick way to understand the story. The narrative here: The police department serves the city.
[Photo by Saverio Truglia]
A version of this article appeared in the April 2013 issue of Fast Company magazine.