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WUWM's Emily Files reports on education in southeastern Wisconsin.

MPS students get visit from mayor after writing letters about reckless driving

Emily Files
From left to right: Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman, Mayor Cavalier Johnson, MPS Superintendent Keith Posley and MPS Board Director Jilly Gokalgandhi talked to students at Roosevelt Middle School.

Milwaukee’s mayor and police chief visited MPS students Tuesday to respond to their concerns about reckless driving.

Roosevelt Middle School of the Arts teacher Santanna Dillon’s sixth grade class wrote letters to Mayor Cavalier Johnson after they watched an educational video about reckless driving.

"They were very interested right away," Dillon said. "They really led the discussion on it — how it affected their lives, things that they could do to help combat reckless driving. And the idea to write the letters to the mayor was actually the students’ idea as well."

Here are the solutions students Jaheer Johnson and Fredie Wright suggested:

"We talked about can you like charge the parents for their kids’ actions, that’s basically what I wrote in mines," said student Jaheer.

"And some of the things I said were like use the traffic cams more to see who is taking the cars and things like that," said Fredie.

Emily Files
Roosevelt Middle School students gathered in the library to hear from the mayor. Their teacher, Santanna Dillon, is standing at the left.

When asked why they think kids around their age would steal cars and drive dangerously, Jaheer said this: "Most of them do it because their parents don’t discipline them. Or they don’t feel love sometimes so they go and do bad things."  

Mayor Johnson and Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said the city is trying to curb reckless driving through a special traffic safety police unit and traffic calming measures. Also, the city has started towing unregistered vehicles that were driven dangerously.

One student asked Johnson how reckless driving affects him. He said his family has had close calls with speeding drivers.

"Reckless driving has impacted my family as well because when my wife is going to pick up my son from school and she’s got my four-year-old twin daughters in the car, sometimes it’s happened where somebody is driving recklessly and they’re zigging and zagging and driving toward her like a game of chicken," Johnson said. "With my babies in the car."

According to MPD, 22 people have died in car crashes in Milwaukee this year.

Johnson and Norman encouraged the students to intervene if they see a friend or family member engaged in reckless driving.

"The most powerful people in this room are you," Johnson said. "If you've got friends that might be doing bad things, you can influence them. They listen to you much more than they listen to us."

After hearing from the police chief and mayor, students Jaheer Johnson and Fredie Wright said they hope city leaders are also focused on the issue of gun violence. Jaheer said it makes him scared to walk to school. Fredie said he hears gun shots in his neighborhood.

"I know somebody who's been shot and I’ve been, not in a shooting, but close to one, it was down the street and I could hear the shots going off," Fredie said. "And last New Year’s they were shooting close to where I live."

Their teacher, Santanna Dillon, said she may ask her students if they want to write another set of letters to the mayor, this time, about gun violence.

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