"Safety is our focus:" Milwaukee Police stands by current pursuit policy

NOW: “Safety is our focus:“ Milwaukee Police stands by current pursuit policy

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The Milwaukee Police Department released a statement on Wednesday regarding concerns about vehicle pursuits.

‘We want to the public to know that safety is our focus," said Assistant Chief Michael Brunson. 

MPD says the department takes pursuits very seriously and understands they are dangerous, however, they will continue the practice to keep the community a safer place overall.

“Pursuits are dangerous and we understand that and we’d rather not engage in pursuits," said Brunson.

The department says each pursuit is subject to oversight. If a supervisor or officer believes the pursuit is too dangerous, it may be terminated at any time. After a chase, it is reviewed by members of the department.

“This isn’t a video game. There are consequences and we want our community to feel that" said Alderman Jose Perez, 12th District. 

In 2017, MPD updated their pursuit policy to allow the officers to pursue reckless drivers and suspected drug dealers. MPD is sending a clear message that they must apprehend individuals who recklessly disregard the law and place other lives in danger by fleeing from police. 

"We want them to learn from their policy and we will go after them if they are committing crimes in our city but we’d prefer that they not do that," said Brunson. 

MPD says without an expansive pursuit policy, many criminals could avoid apprehension by driving away. MPD says they believe the current pursuit policy is a major factor in a reduction of crime from 2017 to 2018. According to the department, homicides decreased 16 percent from 2017 and nonfatal shootings dropped 15 percent.

Alderman Michael Murphy says this issue doesn't just fall on the police department.

“Law enforcement is only one component of it. I think there are other components and that’s education, prevention, engineering solutions. I think it’s a holistic approach to this problem," said Murphy. 

Milwaukee Police are hoping to prevent chases before they even happen. 

“Our strategies are proactive too. We are identifying a group of young people that have engaged in these types of activities and we are going to come together sometime in May to have an open-ended conversation to talk about the dangers of these kinds of things," said Assistant Chief Ray Banks. 

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