Mayor Barrett, Chief Flynn call for change after 16-year-old killed in crash involving stolen vehicle

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MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn, and Milwaukee Common Council President Michael Murphy spoke with reporters on Sunday afternoon, January 24th after a busy weekend as it relates to vehicle thefts and carjackings. Barrett, Flynn and Murphy said they are especially concerned after another young man lost his life in a crash involving a stolen vehicle that happened on Saturday, January 23rd -- and these city leaders are pushing for change.

The crash happened near N. Port Washington Road and Capitol Drive.

A 16-year-old boy was killed when a stolen vehicle struck another vehicle, and the collision caused the vehicle to strike a home and come to rest on its roof. The 16-year-old boy was ejected from the vehicle and pronounced dead at the scene, and several others fled the stolen vehicle on foot. Police say speed was a factor in this crash.

N. Port Washington Road and Capitol Drive

N. Port Washington Road and Capitol Drive

Mayor Barrett was at the scene of this crash on Saturday, after receiving word of the crash while on his way to a community event at 20th and Keefe.

"We immediately went to the scene, and the ambulance was still there with the body of a young man who died in that stolen vehicle still inside. This is a scene we have seen far too often in Milwaukee over the past 12 months," Mayor Barrett said.

Barrett said over the past 12 months in Milwaukee, 14 people have lost their lives in crashes involving stolen vehicles.

Barrett said none of these deaths involved a police pursuit.

"All involved young people who had a stolen car -- sometimes taken in a carjacking, traveling at high rates of speed. Some were very, very young. Sometimes it was the driver killed. Sometimes it was the passenger," Barrett said.

Mayor Barrett, Chief Flynn, Common Council President Murphy hold news conference to discuss rash of carjackings and deadly crashes

Mayor Barrett, Chief Flynn, Common Council President Murphy hold news conference to discuss rash of carjackings and deadly crashes

Barrett mentioned a crash at 19th and Olive that happened last Monday, January 18th.

Police say a 2008 Honda CRV, that was taken in an armed robbery on January 15th was traveling at a high rate of speed -- headed westbound on Olive Street when it attempted to pass another vehicle that was also headed westbound.

The Honda CRV struck the other vehicle, lost control, and then crashed into the tree.

19-year-old Giovanni Cole was killed. His passengers, a 15-year-old female and a 16-year-old female, were taken to the hospital with serious injuries.

Fatal crash at 19th & Olive

Fatal crash at 19th & Olive

Barrett said young people in Milwaukee need to understand that stealing a vehicle, and then choosing to drive that stolen vehicle, sometimes at a high rate of speed, can have deadly consequences.

"This is not a game. This is not a game at all. You may play video games. You might like having fun. There's a lot of young people who have lost friends, and have made makeshift memorials for friends of theirs involved in stolen vehicle accidents. If you think it's cute, if you think it's funny, it's not. This is life and death," Mayor Barrett said.

Mayor Barrett, Chief Flynn and Common Council President Murphy said the responsibility, when it comes to vehicle thefts and subsequent crashes involving stolen vehicles lies not only with police in apprehending those responsible, but also with the parents of young people in Milwaukee, and also, the criminal justice system as a whole.

Mayor Barrett, Chief Flynn, Common Council President Murphy hold news conference to discuss rash of carjackings and deadly crashes

Mayor Barrett, Chief Flynn, Common Council President Murphy hold news conference to discuss rash of carjackings and deadly crashes

"Parents must make sure they know what their kids are doing. Who are they playing with? Who are they hanging out with? What are they doing with their free time? I've got teenagers. I know this isn't always easy. But you cannot allow your kids to put themselves in situations that will result in you getting a knock on your door to tell you your son or daughter was just killed in a stolen vehicle accident. You may not like the police, the community, or the way people respond to these incidents, but you don't want to lose your child," Mayor Barrett said.

There has been some criticism of the Milwaukee Police Department's pursuit policy, and the feeling among some criminals that MPD will not pursue vehicles in the city.

Mayor Barrett said in 2015, there were "well over" 200 vehicle pursuits by the Milwaukee Police Department, whereas if you go back a few years, the number of pursuits may have averaged 50.

"You have individuals trying to send word to the community that police won't chase you if you carjack a car. If you carjack a car, we are going to chase you," Mayor Barrett said.

CLICK HERE to view the Milwaukee Police Department's pursuit policy.

"We have to make sure that the individuals who steal cars, who carjack vehicles, who are repeat offenders, especially, face real consequences. We know how many arrests MPD makes. We have to make sure as it goes through the whole system, every component of this system, to make sure there are consequences for offenders who repeat this over and over again. We are not doing these kids any favors if they steal a car and steal another car and nothing happens to them. We are certainly not doing this community any favors," Mayor Barrett said.

Chief Flynn mentioned the Milwaukee Police Department's "Anti Carjacking Task Force" which was created on December 1st, in conjunction with MPD's "Area Violent Crimes Task Force."

Flynn said there were 94 carjackings in Milwaukee prior to the formation of this task force -- and the number was reduced to 40% within the first six weeks of the task force's formation.

As of January 24th, Chief Flynn said MPD is on pace to reduce the number of carjackings in Milwaukee by 50%.

Flynn said since the task force's creation, nearly 30 people have been arrested in Milwaukee for carjackings since December 1st.

On Friday, January 22nd, it was announced that Milwaukee police had arrested more than a dozen people in a 48-hour period for carjackings.

N. Port Washington Road and Capitol Drive

N. Port Washington Road and Capitol Drive

Chief Flynn also addressed this weekend's fatal crash at N. Port Washington Road and Capitol Drive -- telling reporters that the 16-year-old boy killed in the crash was on probation at the time, with GPS supervision.

Flynn said the boy had been on an "auto theft robbery task force list" since August of 2014, and he was "well known to us for car theft."

Flynn said in August, there was concern within two different agencies regarding the placement of this boy at home, because there were concerns about his behavior. At 16 years old, he had been arrested six times by two agencies for motor vehicle theft, armed robbery, carrying a concealed weapon, resisting arrest and curfew violations.

Flynn said one of the concerns highlighted by this fatal crash is that police are not able to get real-time GPS monitoring information for these juveniles.

"We had been looking for him for some time, and sadly found him at the scene of the crash on Saturday," Chief Flynn said. "He's out, driving around on GPS monitoring that we have no real-time access to that information."

Flynn also mentioned a wild car chase that started on the city's south side and ended near 107th and Silver Spring Drive that ended with four 13-year-old boys in custody. Milwaukee police say a 32-year-old woman was robbed and beaten by these four teenagers. Her purse was stolen and the suspects got away -- but not for long.

Stolen car chase ending at 107th & Silver Spring

Stolen car chase ending at 107th & Silver Spring

The driver in this case was arrested by MPD in December of 2015 -- less than a month before the pursuit.

His passenger had two prior arrest for motor vehicle theft and operating without the owner's consent, and two arrests for resisting.

Another passenger was arrested by MPD for resisting, and for four prior motor vehicle thefts, and has prior admitted involvement in driving cars at high rates of speed.

"The problem is this: We are dealing with immature brains for whom right now it's a status-driven fad to steal cars. There is a subset that steal cars at gunpoint. There are others that steal cars that people carelessly leave with keys in the ignition. Our biggest challenge is the rest of the system so far appears to be incapable of dealing with high rate juvenile offenders who are a threat to their own lives and the lives of the innocent. We need to do a better job of coming up with meaningful ways to hold these juveniles that are still out there on the streets driving stolen cars. We cannot be surprised when there is a significant increase in the stolen car rate when there's no meaningful sanctions or services generated for anyone arrested in that stolen car. An arrest is not a meaningful sanction. Other parts of the system must provide an appropriate array of services and sanctions so these offenders learn something from this experience, otherwise it will continue to be a real-life version of grand theft auto and people will continue to die," Chief Flynn said.

Chief Flynn mentioned real-time access to GPS monitoring data, and real-time access to who is on probation as changes he'd like to see within the criminal justice system.

"The status quo isn't working. Doing nothing is an option that's resulting in increases in crime, injuries and death," Flynn said.

N. Port Washington Road and Capitol Drive

N. Port Washington Road and Capitol Drive

"I'm not calling for every person to be locked up. But when someone has a record as long as my arm, and the only punishment is a day, perhaps a day in jail, it's insignificant. The great frustration is that children are not being held responsible for their actions by parents, by the criminal court system, as offenders are repeatedly brought in and released. It deters the morale of the Milwaukee Police Department and our citizens, and it makes a mockery of the justice system. We are doing our children no great favor by putting them back out on the street where they create carnage and end up killing themselves or their passengers or God forbid some innocent citizen trying to go to work," Common Council President Murphy said.

In addition to changes to the criminal justice system, Chief Flynn mentioned there's something simple we can all do to decrease the number of car thefts in Milwaukee.

Flynn said 50% of stolen cars are the result of people leaving the keys inside to warm them up.

"Please put up with a cold butt for 20 minutes, instead of leaving your car with the keys in it and ending up with a deadly pursuit. That's what happened on Saturday," Flynn said.


  • Jeffery Dahmer

    What is being done about the murder rate in Milwaukee and the Heroin overdoses? Let’s not forget getting tough on REPEAT Drunk Drivers in the ONLY State where a first offense is NOT a crime.

    • Nate

      What about JUSCTIE–F this cold sht!!!!! I only care about black lives and justice when it’s warm out..f this cold sht

    • james

      This state is soft on crime its not even funny. I lived all over the US and I have never seen a criminal justice as lenient as it is in Wisconsin. This is coming from someone who works in law enforcement. Its just stupid. Blame the judges, lawmakers for allowing their city to be ruined by criminals.

    • striker

      Latent learning occurs in humans. Children may learn by watching the actions of their parent(s) but only demonstrate it at a later date, when the learned material is needed. For example, suppose that LaQuon’s Dad Aunt, drives to the liquor store every day and mean mugs the clerk while stealing a 24oz. Old E. In this way, LaQuon learns the route from his house to the liquor store and how to act, but he’s never driven there himself or stolen anything, so he has not had a chance to demonstrate that he’s learned the way. One morning Laquon’s Mom has to leave early to go get some blunts, so she can’t drive Laquon anywhere. Instead, LaQuon remembers the route to the liquor store and goes on his stolen bike. This demonstrates latent learning. Laquon had learned the route to the liquor store and how to steal/rob it, but had no need to demonstrate this knowledge earlier because of his Aunt, Mom, or who ever is raising these animals. Here’s an example of how it’s learned:

  • Chriso

    Can we just fence off the north side. We could build brides over it. Cost more up front but I think it will save in the long run. Let them sort it out.

  • Opinion8d

    Clearly Mayor Barrett doesn’t understand the dysfunction of the inner city. His words may be relevant to his kids or a suburban youth with a decent family structure, but they completely out of place for these type of criminals. How can you lead, if you don’t even understand the problem? These kids come from an environment that has no structure, morals, values or respect for anything.

  • Arcol H.

    What do you mean by parents? I’d bet that these kids who steal cars come from dysfunctional families where there is only one parent. How the heck are they getting guns at 13 years of age to hi-jack a car? They want to steal a car under whatever circumstances, race down streets and end with hitting something or someone and get ejected from the vehicle. Who really cares? It goes on and on and on. They aren’t listening to anyone and it will still continue. Milwaukee needs to take care of the real problems.

  • educated one

    “We immediately went to the scene, and the ambulance was still there with the body of a young man who died in that stolen vehicle still inside…,” Mayor Barrett said.
    Story said POS was ejected. Who put thug back into the stolen vehicle?

  • Save our city

    Who really gives a fart anymore? Same old same old.They’ll be another dozen car thefts by Wednesday. Milwaukee is so far in the sewer I don’t have any idea how it can be turned around anymore?

  • Josie

    The mayor needs to stop talking to these criminals and their families like they are little babies. They know full well what they are doing and their parents are just like they are. The only solution seems to be to jail the perpetrators. Maybe when they know they are going to serve time they might think twice. Then again maybe not. These are the type of people that think that they can do whatever they want and the law does not apply to them. You can catch them red handed and they will stand there and say they did not do it and their community and families will back them up.
    Milwaukee is going down the tubes and is starting to take the neighboring suburbs right along with it.

    • Michael Neals

      Josie: They should put the whole family in a family jail cell. Get them a ged, some job training, teach responsibility and for the goodness of all FAMILY PLANNING.

  • chris

    Like what change Trolley Tom? Free trolley rides for ghetto thugs so they’ll be less inclined to take a car? Unless you plan on holding the kids and their parents accountable just shut up, sit in city hall and count the days until Bob Donovan takes your job.

  • Mike Johnson

    listen here flynn if i want to let my damn car run in my driveway it is expected that it will be there when i return. these thugs need to be taught right from wrong just because you can take something doesnt mean you should. and if one of these morons happen to try and steal my car while its warming up i will leave my coffee on the table and put a .45 caliber hole in them.

  • C.L.

    More problems with “young people” stealing cars. Not to mention the “young people” robbing and killing. Milwaukee would be a much better and safer city if not for the “young people.” Perhaps if the “young community” took some personal responsibility for their families and children, then “young people” wouldn’t be such a problem here, as in every major American city.

  • Fedupinmilwaikee

    Milwaukee has become a joke for its youth. Because of the weak juvenile delinquency programs, kids have become to feel invincible. I’ve talked to kids who have competitions as to who can steal the nicer vehicle or have pointed guns at cops for fun. When are we going to take a step back and say enough is enough and start to penalize these juvenile offenders, take back Milwaukee and be proud of living in this once great city. I’ll admit I’m ashamed of this city. Disgusted by what it’s become and in constant fear I’ll be robbed, shot, or killed, just driving down the road. This is pathetic and it all starts with Barrett and Flynn taking the power away and the trust and the morale away from the police department

    • james

      Agreed 100%. Other states if you commit a felony crime at ages 16 and older your tried as an adult. This kid has six prior arrest including armed robbery and carjacking yet he is on the streets. Innocent people are losing their lives here because of how soft we are on crime and kids know they wont receive real punishment. I have regrets moving here to Wisconsin because of how lenient we are on criminals. Its so stupid it pisses me off.

  • 2ECOND

    “We had been looking for him for some time, and sadly found him at the scene of the crash on Saturday,” Chief Flynn said.
    Sadly? really? should have read, “luckily” the hell with these little thuggies, and the hell with Flynn and barrett.

  • Nate

    They should’ve said:
    Is it? Is it really THAT shocking? Really? You have good kids coming from whole families not some broken home where the kid doesn’t even know his dad. This kids should know better, I expect more out of them. They should be demonstrating how to behave in a decent society. I mean, if they don’t know no better because of how they were brought up then it’s on whoever kept these geniuses alive for so long until they could rob and steal and live off of us. Think about this next time ladies before you open your legs. Suppose you are in an ideal position to raise a flourishing child. You are well-educated, financially secure, have plenty of social support, and so on. (I do not mean to imply that lacking any of these advantages will necessarily prevent a child from flourishing – just that these are advantages, in that they improve the odds that a child will flourish.) Further, suppose that you have a loving disposition, and would certainly care deeply and well for any child you might have. Yet, as it happens, you are ambivalent about the prospect of having children, since you have many other interests and life projects you value, which would be curtailed (at least to some extent) were you to have children.

  • A. B. Norml

    As usual – Flynn tries to at least partially blame the victims, and put the responsibility on the honest citizens : We should be able to leave our cars unlocked, keys in & running without worrying that some punk will come along and steal it; We should not have to show photo ID and get our name in a database just to buy a perfectly legal cold medicine; We should be able to leave a GPS on the dash of the car and not be blamed if someone steals it. . Baby formula should not have to be under lock and key, or have quantities limited, just because some dumbasses use it for drugs. The cops should not be blamed when an idiot points a BB gun at them in the dark.
    At least some of these punks, young and old, are paying the ultimate price. Don’t have to worry about them becoming repeat offenders, and/or paying for their room-and-board in some jail. The gene pool has been cleaned up

  • 0311 USMC Grunt, Author of Sarcasm

    Everyone here talks about the kids, carjacking, but stop and think about the victims who gets a gun in their face, they will remember and be scared to go anywhere, the gas station, the store, etc because life flashed before their eyes, really sad Barrett and Flynn are just lost liberals collecting a nice paycheck for doing nothing.

  • Fred

    This is just too good! The Mayor and Police Chief are just figuring out now that the problem is the repeat offenders on the street? We need to do more to put them away for longer?? Well no kidding Dick Tracey! Why don’t you start by putting them in real prison if they’re 16 years old or older. If they have a gun they’re not acting like kids. Maybe you should start cutting off the monthly entitlements for the families of these offenders…… you the families would be throwing these hood rats under the bus real quick if you cut off their monthly allowance.

    • Mark

      lol, exactly Fred. As soon as I read the start of the headline ‘Mayor Barrett, Chief Flynn call for change’ I seriously just started chuckling. These two are like Abbot and Costello. Seriously, these articles are starting to look like something from ‘the Onion’.

    • NO Trolley

      LOL Jack!! Black Lives did Splatter on this one. Thankfully it was one of the POS thugs,and not an innocent bystander. I don’t care when a violent thug dies comitting a crime.

  • james

    Kids committing robbery, carjackings and theft is a norm here in Milwaukee. Other states would try them as adults for felony crimes. These kids know they wont receive real punishment so crimes committed by young adults will continue. I mean even the police chef says they are trying to target repeat offenders. Repeat offenders! Just to show you how soft the justice system is here. Not to mention OWI is a violation here. Terrible city that shows no accountability for people’s actions. SHAME ON YOU WISCONSIN LAWMAKERS. SOFT ON CRIME.

  • Mark

    not really sure how the process works, and not trying to be funny, but can someone tell me exactly what happens to a 16 yr old kid when he’s caught after stealing a vehicle? I understand theyre minors and so we have no way of actually tracking from point of being in custody to point of being back on the street looking for his next ride. Does anyone know exactly how it works?

    • james

      The juvenile justice system here is more lenient compared to other states probably due to funding overcrowded juvenile detention halls and the fact that they are under 18. The juveniles get tried in juvenile court and its up to the judge to decide how long they stay in juvenile detention but since there is lack of funding they dont want the detention center to be overcrowded so usually sent on house arrest or “home monitoring” but lack of resources so we cant all monitor the juveniles it’s mostly relied upon the parents. Most other states have laws that felony crimes committed by juveniles enables the justice system to try them as adults. Not here in Wisconsin, there are no such laws so practically any crime besides murder is being tried in juvenile court. So these kids know they can get away with most things besides murder. Just to show you how lenient we are on crime, this is the only state in which a OWI is a violation up until it’s your 4th offense then its a misdemeanor. Laws here enable people to be criminals and continue living as criminals. Shame on this state for enabling criminals to roam free.
      This is from a criminal justice major and former law enforcement.

      • Mark

        thx for clarifying. Figured it had at least something to do with our state having so damn many juvenile criminals that they don’t know what to do with them all, lol.

  • Cameron

    While it sounds great to lock these offenders up, the reality is that the system is already overloaded and there is no place to put them. With Lincoln Hills under investigation, they are clearing kids out of there as fast as possible. Violent offenders, rapists, car jackers, etc. Where are we going to put them? Due to some of Walker’s policies, Ethan Allen School for boys was closed. Group homes are over crowded, jails are overcrowded. Where do you want them to go? The kids committing these crimes know this. They aren’t getting second chances, they are getting exactly what our current system has to offer, nothing. The cops are out there doing the best they can, but they are outmanned and have no real recourse. Please, tell me, where are we going to put them? I know not doing anything isn’t the answer, as evidenced by the high rate of repeat offenders and car related deaths. So, we know there is a problem, what is a viable solution to fix it?

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