‘It’s unfortunate:’ Alderman supports pursuit policy despite 3 deaths in less than 10 days

MILWAUKEE -- As of Monday, April 22, there had been three fatalities linked to police pursuits in Milwaukee in less than 10 days. Pursuits on Milwaukee streets have been dangerous not only for the suspect(s) involved, but the public in general.

In a video shared on social media in fall 2018, Milwaukee police and city leaders explained their goals related to safer streets.

It seems if criminals are getting that message, they are ignoring it. That is why Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan, chairman of the Milwaukee Common Council's Public Safety Committee, said the pursuit policy is necessary.

Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan

"The reality is, when we had the non-pursuit policy, it ended up creating an atmosphere of lawlessness across Milwaukee," Donovan said. "People knew they could flee from police. No matter what they did, police wouldn't chase them."

Three pursuits over less than 10 days (April 11-April 20) stemmed from reckless driving, shooting and drugs, respectively.

The pursuits for justice were costly ones. Pedro Colon, 25, an innocent young father, was killed in a wreck near 13th and Morgan on April 11 -- after a suspect was being chased by a sheriff's deputy as part of an investigation that stemmed from reckless driving.

Fatal crash near 13th and Morgan

Fatal crash near 13th and Morgan

Pedro Colon-Ortiz

An 18-year-old died after a collision with a school bus near 40th and North on April 18 -- during a pursuit police said was linked to a triple shooting that day that left three teenagers hurt.

A 27-year-old died after his vehicle crashed into a home near 13th and Capitol during a pursuit on April 20-- and burst into flames. Police said that pursuit stemmed from a drug investigation.

Crash involving school bus near 40th and North in Milwaukee

Vehicle into house near 13th and Capitol in Milwaukee

"Without a doubt, it's unfortunate," Donovan said.

Despite the deaths and dangers, Donovan said a majority of community members support the pursuit policy -- reinstated in fall 2017. The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission on Sept. 7, 2017 approved the proposed revised pursuit policy that allows Milwaukee police officers to pursue vehicles involved in reckless driving and suspected mobile drug trafficking. Four years prior, then-MPD Chief Ed Flynn changed the pursuit policy after several innocent bystanders were killed.

Officers once restricted to only chasing vehicles suspected of being involved in violent crime, now have discretion to follow drug dealers, reckless drivers and more.

"We have seen a greater level of traffic enforcement," Donovan said.

Donovan said the non-pursuit policy did more harm than good to innocent victims.

Prior to it being reinstated, there were more than 600 vehicles fleeing from officers every month during traffic stops.

In 2018, the Milwaukee Police Department averaged 18 police chases every week, a big increase from 2017.

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