MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee Police are chasing cars more than ever. It started from a change in policy ordered by the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission (FPC), meaning officers can now pursue more suspected criminals.
The latest report shows the department has been using that policy change at record levels.
"This is by far the most pursuits engaged in since at least 2002," said David Gelting, research and policy analyst for the FPC.
The numbers show more than half of police chases are now high speed chases, 52.2-percent are over 75 miles an hour. More than 70 percent happen at night and most pursuits, 67 percent, are for reckless drivers.
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But more chasing does not necessarily translate to more apprehensions. According to the report, only 38 percent of people who flee are caught.
Chief Alfonso Morales disagrees. He said pursuing drives down overall crime numbers.
"It is the follow up that goes on, not just the pursuit," said Morales. "It's identifying who that person is who fled."
Former Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn had a limited pursuit policy. He fought the changes ordered by the FPC.
Flynn's biggest fear was that more pursuits would kill civilians and cops.
Just last month, officers chased a SUV speeding near W. Orchard and 20th St. The driver crashed into an Uber passenger and killed 22-year-old Cristina Maylyn Hernandez. Last summer, Officer Charles Irvine, Jr. was killed in a pursuit that would might not have been approved under Flynn.
"Is it dangerous? Absolutely it is," said Morales. "It involves supervision, our first line supervisors and it involves our inspectors who are out there at night to make the right decisions."