Oak Creek: Leading a Community in the Aftermath of a Tragedy

In August 5, 2012, a white supremacist opened fire in the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek, a suburb of Milwaukee. The attack resulted in the death of six Sikh worshipers and the injury of four others—including Oak Creek Police Lieutenant Brian Murphy who was first on the scene. After swiftly responding to the call at the Temple, the Oak Creek Police Department (OCPD), together with the town’s civic leadership, turned its attention to reassuring the victims—and all 35,000 town residents—that they were safe and to guiding the community forward in the aftermath of the devastating violence.

When he was promoted to lead the OCPD in 2011, Chief John Edwards continued the agency’s emphasis on proactive training for officers and strong relations with the community. In the months that followed the attack, OCPD expanded these strong commitments by providing clear information about the attack and the subsequent investigation, consistently fielding questions and concerns from the public, and working directly with residents to establish new preventive public safety measures.