MILWAUKEE -- Revisions to the Milwaukee Police Department vehicle pursuit policy went into effect on Friday, September 22nd. It means officers are now able to chase after reckless drivers and suspected drug dealers.
The changes have been months in the making -- and were met with some resistance from Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn. But some city leaders are hopeful this will make a difference in stopping crime.
"We hope that it makes the streets of Milwaukee much safer," said Steven DeVougas, Chairman of the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (FPC).
Officers are now being given discretion to chase reckless drivers and mobile drug dealers. Previously, officers could only chase vehicles they believed were connected to violent crimes.
"People were driving recklessly without the police chasing them. Pedestrians were getting hit by reckless drivers and there seemed to be no repercussions," DeVougas said.
Despite objections to the changes, Chief Flynn helped craft the new policy. He was not convinced it would be a cure-all.
"Police pursuit policy has been the fall guy for other issues that exist, but the fact is, we've amended the policy to be responsive to those political concerns," Chief Flynn said.
Milwaukee aldermen share different perspectives -- hearing concerns from constituents from the city's south side...
"People are really frustrated with the crime problem and this certainly will be another step moving forward to be more aggressive when it comes to public safety," said Ald. Tony Zielinski.
To the north side...
"Now when they see you driving recklessly, you will be chased, you will be pursued and you will be caught," said Ald. Cavalier Johnson.
The FPC will continue to monitor the policy to see if the changes are working. Both Mayor Tom Barrett and Chief Flynn were not available for comment about the changes on Friday.