Ald. Bob Donovan
Press Release

Kansas City, KS reverses pursuit policy to address “skyrocketing crime

Statement from Alderman Bob Donovan May 15, 2017

By - May 15th, 2017 09:34 am

On Friday the Public Safety Committee will be discussing the Milwaukee Police Department’s pursuit policy, and the topic could not be timelier.

In Kansas City, Kansas, the police department recently reversed its pursuit policy – going from a restraint-driven policy that went into place in 2014 after two innocent people were killed there in incidents involving police chases – back to a policy meant to target and stop criminals.

Starting next month, ALL drivers who flee traffic stops in Kansas City, Kansas will be pursued by police.
Kansas City, Kansas Police Chief Terry Zeigler was quoted in a media report about why the policy switch was necessary: “We’re going in the wrong direction, and it’s time for us to change that.”

Chief Zeigler and Kansas City, Kansas get it – why can’t Milwaukee also get it?!

Chief Flynn made the switch in Milwaukee in 2010 to a pursuit policy that allows officers to initiate a vehicle pursuit only under very limited circumstances. A fleeing vehicle must first be tied to a violent felony, and if it is not, no pursuit can be initiated. I spoke out strongly against the change when it was made, and my position today is unchanged. In fact, today Milwaukee’s streets feel less safe and criminals are more emboldened because of the MPD pursuit policy.

In Milwaukee, the switch to a pursuit policy based on restraint may have been put in place with the best of intentions, to better protect innocent civilians and to enhance officer safety, but in my view (and in the opinion of MANY others) it has actually made crime worse in our city, and it’s made everyday life less safe for our citizens.

Every day in Milwaukee we are seeing brazen acts of reckless driving, blatant red light running, speeding, and aggressive vehicle moves that put lives in danger. Too often, drivers pull away and flee from police vehicles because those drivers know that there won’t be a pursuit. It has become almost laughable for these drivers.

It is time for Milwaukee to take a lesson from Kansas City, Kansas. It’s time for Milwaukee to start enforcing our laws, and to let our police officers do the work that they’ve been sworn to do.

We cannot continue to let criminals run wild on our streets. We need to do what’s best for our citizens and our great city, and that means going back to Milwaukee’s original (previous) pursuit policy.

Mentioned in This Press Release

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Statement from Alderman Bob Donovan - September 1, 2017

20 thoughts on “Kansas City, KS reverses pursuit policy to address “skyrocketing crime”

  1. sharon pendleton says:

    High speed chases in city traffic is suicidal, and should not be allowed. The police already know the vehicle description, license number and who they are seeking, so tracking a car/suspect should not be an immediate event on the street. That is too risky for those innocent people who also are apt to be the target of collisions and gunfire.

  2. AG says:

    Sharon, the non-pursuit policy (which it isn’t actually a policy that eliminates pursuits) gives criminals a feeling of invincibility and belief they can just speed away from the cops. This has emboldened them and contributed to the increase in crime.

    Two questions: 1. Do you think they’re driving cars registered to them? I can tell you, they aren’t. How do you plan for them to track the driver of a stolen car? This isn’t a CSI show where a stray hair is going to miraculously lead them to the culprit.

    2. Gunfire? Do you think the cops are following behind randomly shooting at the criminal?

    There is a risk to drivers on the street… but as recent events have shown, drivers of “stolies” are already driving like mad and putting people in danger. It must be stopped.

  3. Vincent Hanna says:

    And if pursuits increase and more people end up dead because of it (as before when the policy was changed due to outcry over 4 people being killed in a pursuit), then what?

  4. Rose Scott says:

    Thank you Chief Flynn for dis-allowing pursuit in our neighborhood except where violence is involved. Too many policemen seem to get a “HIGH” off turning on lights and siren to race after a driver who is seeking a “HIGH” from the chase.

    WE are intelligent and humane citizens and will find alternate ways to deal with the “wannabe criminals” who steal cars for the thrill of the chase. Unfortunately, too many young people view “the steal and chase” as fun.

  5. AG says:

    Vincent, I totally understand that concern… but the thing is, people are dying regardless. There were 5 deaths from stolen car crashes last year. There were 10 the year before that. I’m not sure how many pedestrians were killed.

    Just last week a father of four children was killed by joy riding criminals in a stolen car.

    Three weeks ago I came upon a car accident that just happened at 60th and center and the drivers who caused the accident ran… I’m assuming b/c it was stolen. Luckily the driver of the other car seemed ok. This was less than a year after I saw another “stolie” crashed that luckily only damaged a building. If I personally saw two crashes, how often is this actually happening? It’s scary.

    Not only are people driving dangerously when driving the stolen cars, but they are also used to commit more serious crimes. Not to mention the “accidental” deaths and injuries during car jackings gone bad.

    The pursuit policy is interpreted by the criminals as a non-pursuit policy and has directly increased the crime rate and I’d venture to say it’s likely we see more deaths now.

  6. Dave Reid says:

    @AG Is there some evidence that the pursuit policy is leading to increased crime? Also just a note but MPD conducts more pursuit’s now than they did when the new policy went into effect.

  7. Vincent Hanna says:

    If Dave is right and MPD conduct’s more pursuits now, obviously that isn’t deterring criminals AG, so are they really going to care one way or the other? Are they going to stop before they steal a car and wonder if the police will pursue them? That seems highly unlikely. Stolen cars is obviously a serious problem. No argument here on that. But I seriously doubt the policy is why it’s a problem. Unless you have some evidence that the pursuit policy is directly responsible for increased crime. Bob Donovan press releases don’t count.

  8. Vincent Hanna says:

    Thanks Dave. I didn’t think you were fibbing. Just wasn’t positive.

  9. AG says:

    Dave, numerous reports and articles have shown that there is a culture in Milwaukee that lets youth believe they can just run from the police. Both pursuits and non-pursuits have gone up every year since 2012ish once the word was really getting out about the so-called “no pursuit policy.”

    If you know any police officers or get the chance to talk to them, the ones at the street level, they’ll tell you how kids in stolen cars think they can just run whenever the police flip their lights on. It’s ironic that the implementation of the pursuit policy helped increase the number of pursuits.

    There’s other factors like social media bragging and lack of consequences even after getting arrested… but everyone I know who deals with this on a regular basis, plus many of our city leaders and law enforcement leadership, say this has played into it.

  10. AG says:

    Vincent, it’s all about perception. The pursuit policy was never a full “no” pursuit policy, even before 2015. But perception is reality. Not only are we pursuing more than ever, there’s a huge spike in non-pursuits too. So for 300 that got chased, there was what, 1500 that weren’t chased after the cops turned their lights on.

  11. Vincent Hanna says:

    My bro-law is a Sergeant in District 2 who was in District 5 for ten years before his promotion. He doesn’t think the pursuit policy plays a role in that the people who are stealing cars are not going to be influenced by whether or not they think the police will chase them after they steal them.

  12. AG says:

    Vincent, I don’t doubt that he and others feel that way, but that would be the only officer I personally heard of that feels that way.

  13. Vincent Hanna says:

    Flynn and Crivello are quoted in this story. Shocking how many people are killed every year in police pursuits. https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/2015/07/30/police-pursuits-fatal-injuries/30187827/

  14. AG says:

    Not only is that number surprisingly lower than I thought, it’s also only half the story. How many injuries or deaths are caused by people running from police b/c they know they won’t be chased and/or how many are killed by the joy riders who are unafraid to steal cars and drive dangerously because they won’t be chased (along with other reasons).

    I strongly dislike the way the article and several of those interviewed, blamed the police for doing their job instead of holding the criminal responsible.

  15. Vincent Hanna says:

    Lower? Really? So what’s an acceptable number of pedestrian deaths then AG? What would the number need to be before you said yeah OK that’s too many? Why do you think others believe the number is way too high as it is? Notice too that the number probably is higher than the reported figures.

    Your strong dislike is duly noted and on the record.

  16. AG says:

    You’re comprehension of my statement is incorrect. I was saying the number was lower than I expected it would be, not that the number is lower than acceptable limits.

  17. Rich says:

    reckless driving, blatant red light running, speeding, and aggressive vehicle moves that put lives in danger

    Hate to break it to you Bob, but these are not the people that are already fleeing from police or even the ones driving stolen cars, so pursuing them isn’t going to change anything. All those things, unless as an after effect of a criminal act are civil problems.

    Now, the question is do they act that way because they believe that even if observed by police — and at less than one squad per square mile, the chances are slim to begin with — that they won’t be pursued? Perhaps, but that’s only one aspect of a greater culture of disrespect for the rule of law and an orderly society for which I doubt that police pursuits that generally only serve to aggravate the situation will do much to turn the tide.

    Come back to us when you have tech that can 100% stop a vehicle within 30 seconds and render it permanently unusable. Like an EMP gun or something cool.

  18. Philip says:

    Just more fear mongering from old Bob. Hopefully we’ll be rid of him next election.

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