When the police force in Milwaukee decided to upgrade the department’s website, the design team plastered the office walls with print-outs from the sites of the biggest police departments in the country. And then they decided to go as far in the opposite direction as possible.

The new site, launched a few months ago, is bold and flashy, but streamlined and graceful. With 3-D photos of SWAT teams and machine gun-wielding officers piling out of armored trucks, the site has the in-your-face feeling of a first-person video game. If it’s possible to describe a police department website as cool, MilwaukeePoliceNews.com is cool.

It’s a break from everything “old and boring,” says Arthur Mosh, creative technology director and founder of the Web developer LISS Interactive, which, along with ad agency Cramer-Krasselt Milwaukee, designed the new site pro bono. “All the government websites pretty much look the same,” Mosh says. “They’re based on a very old design from a decade ago, and most people never upgraded from that. We knew we’d have to take a different approach.”

Traffic has boomed 3,000 percent since the relaunch, and the new site has already garnered attention in design circles, including Advertising Age, which in August hailed the site as “gorgeous” and “a thing of beauty.”

In addition to aesthetics, Milwaukee police say the streamlined site has an additional advantage: cutting out the media as middleman when it comes to promoting crime-solving successes. The site describes itself as a way to provide “genuine, unfiltered” information to “correct the news stories that got it wrong.”