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MPD Plans to Target Areas Plagued by Car Crimes

Police will pay special attention to intersections where drivers often violate traffic laws

The Milwaukee Police Department plans to employ more officers in neighborhoods experiencing rashes of vehicle thefts, crashes and traffic violations. Police Chief Edward Flynn says the perpetrators are often the same people - and they are frequently responsible for committing other crimes in the city. Mayor Tom Barrett says perhaps residents have noticed drivers disregarding the city’s traffic laws.

“I have witnessed, sitting at a stoplight, watching someone pulling up beside me and they are just running the light. And my reactions range from what you are doing to this is insane, this could cause an accident,” Barrett says.

Those will be among the locations police plan to target – places where residents have been complaining about traffic violations. The other spots officers will focus on are those where data indicates there are problems with stolen vehicles and crashes and violent time.

Chief Flynn says they often go hand-in-hand.

"We’ve got young offenders in stolen cars, driving recklessly, challenging the police, running red lights and having fatal car crashes," Flynn says.

The city will use a $150,000 grant from the state to collect data that will point to trouble spots. Yet Flynn says the city needs more assistance from the entire criminal justice system in order to remove serious offenders from the streets and deter others.

“When you have an epidemic of stolen cars, carjackings and car crashes all related, all involving the same people, I need a system beyond the police department that can say, hey, this community is having a serious problem with its conduct. That discussion isn’t happening anywhere except in the police department right now,” Flynn says.

Flynn says the MPD also plans to stop more suspicious vehicles. He says, when car stops go up, shootings, robberies and car thefts go down.

Common Council President Ashanti Hamilton believes most residents would support the plan, and are, in fact calling for it.

“Many of these perpetrators who are violating the traffic laws are actually - many of them have been identified as some very bad actors, in the community,” Hamilton says.

What city officials hope does not result is a dangerous increase in car chases.