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City Officials Promote Police Pursuit Policy

Donovan wants public information campaign on new policy to chase fleeing offenders.

By , Wisconsin Public Radio - Jun 26th, 2018 12:44 pm
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Police Administration Building, 951 N. James Lovell St. Photo by Christopher Hillard.

Police Administration Building, 951 N. James Lovell St. Photo by Christopher Hillard.

Milwaukee leaders are reminding drivers that city police can participate in high-speed chases.

In a press conference in front of City Hall, Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales said reckless driving puts the lives of everyone on the road at risk.

“People have to know of the city of Milwaukee that we will chase and we are going to chase you,” said Morales, adding that licensed or not, people have the responsibility to pull over when they see a patrol car flashing its lights.

Also at the press conference were common council president Ashanti Hamilton, alderman Bob Donovan, who chairs the Public Safety and Health Committee, and executive director of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission La Keisha Butler.

Donovan said leaders are working on a public information campaign to spread the word against reckless driving.

Monday’s message came during what has been a deadly month for Milwaukee drivers. As recently as Monday morning a man crashed into a semitrailer on Milwaukee’s south side after fleeing police during a traffic stop — Greenfield police stopped their pursuit before the crash due to the high-speed nature of the chase.

The message also comes after the death of 23-year-old Milwaukee police officer Charles Irvine, Jr., who’s squad car crashed while he and his partner were chasing a reckless driver. Irvine’s partner Matthew Schulze was injured in the crash but survived.

The circumstances under which police officers can engage in high-speed chases have long been subject to public discussion.

The pursuit policy was limited in March 2010 after several bystanders were killed by drivers pursued by police.

Between 2010 and 2015, officers were required to have probable cause in order to pursue someone — a change that decreased the number of pursuits police participated in, according to a 2017 Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission report.

The report found vehicle pursuits dropped by more than two-thirds during 2011 and 2012. But in 2015, the policy changed again to address the public’s concerns about carjackings in the city. Officers were again allowed to pursue drivers, but only if the car was involved in a crime.

The 2015 expansion of the policy led to 263 pursuits — more than double the number in 2014.

The policy expanded its scope again in September 2017, this time to allow for the pursuit of reckless drivers and drivers dealing drugs out of their vehicles, and this is the policy the campaign will work to explain to the public.

Jon Farris heads Pursuit for Change, a Wisconsin-based group that advocates for reducing unnecessary chases — a personal mission for Farris after his son died when an SUV being chased by a Massachusetts State Police trooper crashed into the taxi he was riding in.

Farris said he worries more pursuits will result in bystander injuries. But he says he knows police are in a tough position.

“At the time someone runs, you don’t know,” Farris said. “I mean for those who want a chase, those law enforcement they’ll tell you, well there’s something bad, there’s something illegal.”

Farris said uniform federal policies could help, as could federal tracking of pursuit-related injuries and more training for officers.

Mike Crivello, head of the Milwaukee Police Association, said he supports the empowerment of police officers. Like Farris, he also favors more training in high-speed pursuits.

“So that they actually have an opportunity to practice those skills before they must implement that skill-set on the street,” he said.

Crivello would also like to see older patrol cars updated.

“There’s many cars that have 150,000 to 200,000 miles on them and the level of care that they’re getting needs to be questioned and examined,” he said.

Donovan said the campaign — which is still in the very early stages — will focus on reaching out to young people and will spread the word about the policy using social media and other methods. No date for the roll out of the program has been set yet.

Listen to the WPR report here:

Milwaukee Leaders Developing Information Campaign On MPD’s Updated Pursuit Policy was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.

More about the Pursuit Policy

3 thoughts on “City Officials Promote Police Pursuit Policy”

  1. DAG999 says:

    Rather than debate if Police should pursue, how about FP Commissioner La Keisha BUTLER going to the City and State Officials to come up with a serious conviction and sentencing policy that DEMANDS minimum jail and/or full restitution from those who flee from Police? Instead of just sitting on the Commission and discussing only Police Policy and discipline for officers, how about going to the State legislature and getting something like 10 years MINIMUM jail times for those caught by Police who flee in an auto, whether it is stolen or not? Make ALL cases of fleeing from them a FELONY! Right now, offenders under certain ages are out in a matter of days, and even hours. Change that. Use your influence and community standing to convince others that you truly are a leader, and not some political hack put in place by a Mayor that only is using you as a pawn to appease a few in the City of Milwaukee. The book of the past is not working…so throw it away and come up with a new one!

    Juveniles AND adults need to know that there are serious consequences for their actions–backed up by laws that guarantee that they will not be out in hours to do the same thing over and over again.. Instead, our leaders only talk about getting tough, and then debate whether the Police are the bad guys when they do pursue. Be a leader–and do not say that getting serious sentencing is not in your job description. You, Chief MORALES, and Mayor BARRETT ( perhaps even ALL of the FP commission members ) could even hold hands and make a day of it in Madison. Even on a simple, local scale, you can go the the Milwaukee Common council and demand that even something like increasing the ticket from a measly $22 for leaving your keys in the car to perhaps $300, so that it also has some bite, would show that you are serious and not just a figurehead. Taking a line from your own Police Officer recruitment rhetoric: WILL YOU BE THE ONE TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?

  2. Rita says:

    A complicated issue, but I’ll put my vote with active pursuit…
    I have a feeling Officer Irvine would agree…don’t let his death be in vain.
    I’m a little sick of the excuses of “I didn’t know you’d pursue me” and “I was scared”, etc.
    Also, if Ieave my keys in the car,,,it should be the criminal who pays the ticket, not me. I am the victim….not the lawbreaker.
    Besides social media, get the word out on radio stations that cater to young people….those stations should want to cooperate with the police.
    On a side note,,,the suburbs are getting sick of having to pursue the cars that leave MIlwaukee….maybe the discussion should include coordination with other police departments . For example,,if someone is racing west on North ave, alert Brookfield so they can also help.,

  3. DAG999 says:

    This is what I don’t understand about people’s thinking. Leaving keys in the car, whether to park it in your garage/driveway, or to warm it up, enables someone to take advantage. If the car is stolen, and it is involved in someone’s property damage, serious injury, or even death, how could you live with yourself? Even not thinking in criminal terms, what if you left the keys in it (running or not) and your kids were in the car and somehow there was an accident that killed them? By not discouraging this, it has escalated and become worse. This past winter, the North Shore suburbs like Whitefish Bay and Shorewood experienced this over and over when keys were left in their running cars to warm them up–they were stolen and involved in chases–yet people claimed wasn’t their fault, because it is their “right” to do this. The Milwaukee Common Council has become “enablers” by not taking action to persuade people that this thinking needs to be discouraged, and unfortunately, we need to hit people in their pocketbooks to prove the point to them. I know people shouldn’t steal a car. I get that. But I wouldn’t leave my wallet on the counter in a store with cash in it and wait for the goodness in people not to steal from it.

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