MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee police are now towing some unregistered vehicles in an attempt to curb the city's chronic reckless driving problem.
The Fire and Police Commission approved the policy in a 5-1 vote in February. It took effect on May 1.
In addition to being unregistered, vehicles that are caught doing one of the following will be towed: driving recklessly, speeding in excess of 25 MPH, fleeing an officer or street racing.
By the time Mayor Cavalier Johnson and Police Chief Jeffrey Norman held a press conference on the change Monday seven cars had been towed.
According to MPD, the vehicles that were towed as a result of the new policy had either expired, suspended or no registration. Several of the drivers had suspended driver's licenses. The speeds ranged from 27 to 37 mph over the posted speed limit. Officials say as a result of the tows, illegal drugs and a firearm were also recovered.
"We've seen too many reckless drivers, too many accidents, and too many deaths on the streets of our city," Mayor Johnson said.
"If you are loaning your car out know who you're loaning your car out to. It is important to understand responsibility is on you just as well as the one who is driving your car," said Chief Norman.
When asked about how the owners of stolen cars plays into the change, Chief Norman said people who report their car as stolen can opt to retrieve it themselves or have MPD tow it. By default, getting the car back is at the owner's expense, however MPD said there are situations they will look at on a case by case basis.
Commissioner Ed Fallone voted in favor of the policy.
"There are serious consequence to reckless driving on Milwaukee streets," he said. "So, in order to make an impact ... I think there will be a fair number of tows to happen in the coming weeks."
Watch our Monday morning report here:
There's no single metric that defines reckless driving. For one, police look at speeding.
They also look at fatal crashes. There have been 18 so far this year, down from 20 during the same period last year.
"This is a serious problem. People deserve to be able to walk on the street and have their children play without fear for public safety," said Fallone.
NAACP Milwaukee supported the policy before the vote.
"I've never seen this type of carnage, devastation, due to people's reckless behavior. And this is something that can be averted," said Fred Royal, NAACP Milwaukee First Vice President.
Mayor Johnson and Chief Norman mark the start of Milwaukee’s new policy to crack down on reckless driving. Unregistered cars tied to reckless driving may be towed on the spot. Change started Sunday, Chief Norman says 7 cars towed so far. pic.twitter.com/KbqELSrwxC— Mary Jo Ola (@MaryJoOlaTV) May 2, 2022
Royal said towing is a good first step. But Milwaukee, he said, needs to go further with new road designs, including more roundabouts, and education.
"You don't have a right to recklessly endanger people's lives by disregarding traffic laws, because you feel it's a game. Automobiles are lethal weapons when you drive recklessly," said Royal.
Last December, then Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson announced a new program to combat reckless driving that includes engineering safer roads.
CLICK HERE to learn more about the towing policy. Or read MPD's statement detailing the policy below: