“Have to have consequences:” Aldermen weigh in on police pursuits after FPC report released

Police pursuitsMILWAUKEE -- City leaders are combing through a report just released by the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission about the Milwaukee Police Department's vehicle pursuit policy. Some say it reinforces the belief that many are simply getting away with crimes because police won't pursue them.

Even when police pursue a suspect, it only ends with an arrest roughly 37 percent of the time. Some aldermen say the data points to the need for change.

2016 Vehicle Pursuit Report

Michael Murphy

"If the answer is just accepting the way it is, I don't think it's a good answer," said Milwaukee Alderman Michael Murphy.

Murphy has long been among the majority of aldermen in support of police pursuits, regardless of the offense.

"The message we are sending to them is not a good message. It's like there is no consequence for driving recklessly," said Murphy.

Murphy said his position hasn't changed since the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission released its 2016 Vehicle Pursuit Report Wednesday, May 10th. The statistics show pursuits increased last year -- when we saw the most since 2012. But the data also shows a quarter of those incidents ended in crashes -- hurting as many as 36 innocent bystanders and four officers in 2016.

MPD chase data

MPD chase data

Tom Barrett

"There have to be consequences -- particularly if you have kids doing this over and over again. Particularly if you have kids carjacking. You have to have meaningful consequences," said Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.

The pursuit policy was changed seven years ago in an effort to cut down on pursuit-related injuries. Now, officers pursue if they believe the suspects have been involved in a violent crime.

Murphy and other aldermen argue criminals behind the wheel are simply refusing to stop for police and getting away with crimes while getting away from the cops.

"I can go through red lights. I can go 75 miles-per-hour. No one is going to stop me. What's that impact to society in terms of deaths and costs?" said Murphy.

The report also shows the median age for offenders has dropped from 40 years old to just 18 in the last decade. Alderman Murphy said that has to change, and he's looking into ways the city can target young people and make them aware of the consequences of reckless driving.