Alderman React to Potential Changes to MPD Chase Policy
The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission has ordered Chief Ed Flynn to change the department's pursuit policy.
The decision comes after months of back-and-forth debate, with critics saying drivers are taking advantage of a lax policy.
In 2015, MPD officers documented 2,544 "non-pursuits". Last year, that number spiked to 4,317.
"We have a situation where the streets are just the wild west," says Alderman Michael Murphy "People drive anyway they want."
In April, Murphy requested the FPC review the department's chase policy in light of those numbers.
Currently, officers can only pursue vehicles that were involved in a violent crime, or that contain a violent felon.
Officers are not allowed to chase cars involved in traffic violations, robberies, or misdemeanor crimes.
The new guidelines would allow officers to pursue cars that have fled more than twice before, cars involved in mobile drug dealing, and cars involved in excessive reckless driving. That includes running stop lights and stop signs, reckless lane changes, and excessive speeding.
"By putting some controls on them, hopefully that will result in changing behavior."
Chief Ed Flynn has repeatedly stood by the current policy, after 4 people were killed during police pursuits in 2010.
Flynn says pursuing low-level criminals is not worth the risk it poses to the public.
Murphy says the rising number of non-pursuits shows a dis-regard for law enforcement on the streets.
"I'm not interested in seeing more arrests, I'm interested in seeing a chance in behavior, and respecting the laws on the streets."
Alderwoman Chantia Lewis released the following statement.
The Commission has a critical oversight responsibility when it comes to public safety in Milwaukee and I am glad to see it taking a stronger stand in demanding transparency and accountability.
Chief Flynn has until July 27th to implement the changes. The FPC does have the authority to punish, or fire Flynn, if he does not do so.
MPD did not return our requests for comment.
Mayor Tom Barrett can over-ride those changes. His office tells CBS-58 he is still reviewing the material.