Fire and Police Commission adopts new MPD chase policy

Posted at 6:53 PM, Sep 07, 2017
and last updated 2017-09-08 11:27:51-04

MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission has adopted a new chase policy for the Milwaukee Police Department.

"The result of the policy change will mean more high speed pursuits in the City of Milwaukee," said Chief Ed Flynn.

It was not a change Flynn welcomed. He was ordered by the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission to make the changes. It was one he produced, but with a warning.

"Lives are at risk when we are engaged in high-speed pursuits," said Flynn.

The commission originally asked the new chase policy to include ways to pursue reckless drivers, drug dealers, as well as create a "high-value" target list of vehicles that could be pursued.

Officers will now chase the first two.

"I'm concerned about having a high-valued target list with the purpose of suspicion stops is that we really couldn't legally justify it. But applying probable cause standard to drug dealers is what I think the FPC was trying to get at," said Flynn.

According to Flynn, the police department changed to a limited chase policy four years ago after multiple deaths.

"Keep in mind I changed this policy because four people were killed in a month for fleeing from police," said Flynn.

Despite safety concerns over chases, Alderwoman Chantia Lewis said in a statement, "We don't want to see innocent people get hurt, but we've also seen countless people hurt by reckless drivers, so we have to do something." 

It was a sentiment echoed by Alderman Robert Bauman. Both wonder if the policy goes far enough.

"Its hard to say whether this is effective in dealing with reckless driving, drug dealing and other criminal activity," said Bauman.

The aldermen say only time will tell. But Flynn worried what this new policy will ultimately mean.

"It's going to, you know, obviously result in more risk to the community," said Flynn.

The chief said not everyone is going to be chased. Plus, he still expects officers to weigh when the pursuit has become too dangerous to the community and to end it.