MILWAUKEE -- In 2018, the Milwaukee Police Department averaged 18 police chases every week, a big increase from 2017. A new report breaks down what happened after the city changed its pursuit policy. The report looks at how the numbers changed over the last decade, and it's clear the policy change allowing police officers to pursue reckless drivers had an impact.
The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission met Thursday, April 18, to discuss the report.
Beginning in September 2017, Milwaukee police officers were allowed to pursue cars engaged in reckless driving or believed to be engaged in drug dealing.
"We have go to have the ability to go after individuals who are wreaking havoc on our streets," Alderman Bob Donovan said.
Alderman Donovan supported the change, as did Alderman Russel Stamper.
"I was expecting we'd have a safer community and that we'd hold those people that are driving recklessly accountable," said Alderman Stamper.
Along with the increase in pursuits came an increase in pursuits that ended in a crash -- once again, a sharp spike for 2018.
Below are statistics from 2018:
- 165 individuals in the chased vehicle were injured
- 22 police employees were injured
- 38 pursuits ended with an injury to a third party
"I will speak with the chief and ask him, 'Is this still the best route to go?' I think so, but we may have to do some tweaking," Stamper said.
While Stamper said he wants to evaluate the decision, Donovan's opinion on the policy hasn't wavered.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the important thing is that the numbers are being tracked closely.
"I think that's the important thing that there's always a balance between high-speed chases and public safety," Mayor Barrett said.
The report breaks down a lot of different numbers, including when and where these police chases are happening, and also, what happens with those pursuits that don't end in a crash. Less than 38 percent of pursuits end with the subject being taken into custody.