Milwaukee Alderman Calls for MPD to Chase Fleeing Vehicles
Under Milwaukee Police Department policy, officers will not pursue vehicles that are fleeing, unless police know the occupants are committing a violent felony. There are differing views on whether the public is safer or facing more danger as a result of that change the MPD instituted in 2010.
During the first few months of that year, four innocent bystanders were killed while police were pursuing suspects in cars. The department concluded that some chases were not worth the risk. Ald. Bob Donovan says the policy has back fired by leading increased violence across Milwaukee and into suburban areas.
“Quite frankly, traffic fatalities have increased and we’ve seen significant level of disorder, I believe, as a result of this policy,” Donovan says.
The mayoral candidate says the numbers don’t lie; Donovan cites Milwaukee’s soaring homicide rate so far this year. Police Chief Ed Flynn defends the limited pursuit policy. He says his job is protect the general public.
“We expect criminals to behave recklessly. We expect criminals to do anything they can to flee the police no matter how minor their infraction is, and to do so in a way that jeopardizes the safety of the innocent. We don’t think that way, and our policy is reflective of that. And I think it’s very unfortunate that Ald. Donovan has chosen to advocate for the police to have the same values as the criminals, which is a disregard for the life and safety of people put at risk by pursuits,” Flynn says.
Flynn says the real problem is the lack of consequences. He says for instance, juveniles in juvenile court receive very little punishment for car theft. Steve Fonk of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission says it has occasionally discussed the pursuit policy, but there have been no proposals to change it.