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Commission grants Chief Flynn extension on changing pursuit policy

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn will have 30 more days to change his department's pursuit policy.

The Fire and Police Commission granting that request tonight, giving Flynn until September to propose new changes.

Tension between the two sides has been high since the FPC directed Flynn to make changes earlier this month, threatening disciplinary action if he didn't do so. 

Flynn says those requests were made while he was on vacation. He also says he wasn't contacted about the proposal. 

Right now, officers can only pursue vehicles that are involved in a violent crime, or that contain a violent felon. 

The new proposal would allow officers to chase vehicles that are driving recklessly, or involved in mobile drug houses. They would also be allowed to pursue vehicles that have fled twice before.

The FPC issued the directive after statistics were released showing more vehicles are fleeing police year-to-year in Milwaukee.

    "We'd like to have some time to explore why other cities that have the exact same policy that we do haven't had that." 

Flynn listed Dallas, Philadelphia, and San Francisco as cities he will contact over the next month. 

    "I do think there are unanswered questions," he says. "We've gone from a shallow diagnosis of what the problem is with additional car crashes in Milwaukee lately, and we've described it all to one issue. If we change our policy to be more expansive, what's going to be the answer if the driving conditions don't change?" 

FPC Chair Steven DeVougas says he's open to changing the policy, if Chief Flynn can provide a better substitute. 

    "There's always room for compromise," he said following the meeting. "Hopefully we can all collaborate to do something that's going to be positive for the community." 

Flynn says he plans to submit a new policy by the due date. He's also asked the city attorney to review legal options regarding the proposal. 

    "We're going to do our due diligence here okay?" he said. "I'm not going to drag my feet, and I'm not making excuses to not follow the directive of the FPC. We will craft a new policy." 

Flynn has until August 27th to submit a new proposal, which will be discussed by the commission in early September.

DeVougas says an additional extension is unlikely, meaning some new policy will be implemented by mid-September.

Mayor Tom Barrett has the power to veto any proposed change to the policy. 

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