MILWAUKEE — The Milwaukee Police Department announced new initiatives on Thursday aimed at reducing reckless driving and the number of stolen vehicles in the city.
The police department said its partnering with the city and Wisconsin State Patrol (WSP) for these initiatives.
First, MPD said WSP will provide additional squad cars to increase visibility and enhance enforcement efforts in Milwaukee.
WSP and the MPD Traffic Safety Unit will deploy once a week through September 1 in targeted areas to develop crash data, citizen complaints, aldermanic requests, and district concerts.
“Wisconsin State Patrol is ready to help the Milwaukee Police Department with this important partnership to serve and protect the public,” Superintendent Tim Carnahan said. “State Patrol officers will help with traffic safety so Milwaukee PD can focus on community safety. We want all of Wisconsin to be safe, and this is one strategy to achieve that.”
Additionally, MPD is relaunching its Combat Auto Theft program, or CAT. This program allows for citizens to receive a sticker which they can place on the back of their vehicle, to signify that that vehicle should not be on the roads between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m.
If police see a vehicle with the sticker out during those hours, MPD said it needs no other reason to stop the car. This gives MPD the edge in recovering stolen vehicles and helps them catch criminals
Milwaukee police said they will be deploying "bait cars" which are vehicles that can be disabled by law enforcement should someone try to steal it. Officials said at least one of the vehicles is a KIA or Hyundai.
“These initiatives aim to increase safety and reduce crime. They reflect my public safety priorities,” Mayor Cavalier Johnson said. “I appreciate the work of the police department, the support from the Wisconsin State Patrol, and all the efforts from partners throughout Milwaukee who are working to build a safer city.”
“Through public safety partnerships and innovative programs, the Milwaukee Police Department will continue to combat reckless driving and vehicle thefts in the City of Milwaukee and create a safe environment all Milwaukeans can enjoy,” said Police Chief Jeffrey Norman.
For Jordan Morales, a father of five kids in the Sherman Park neighborhood, pushing for safer streets has become a mission.
"I just want them to be able to play outside safely," Morales said.
As Morales watched Thursday's news conference he agreed with the measures police announced. He was excited about the partnership with Wisconsin State Patrol since MPD is stretched thin. However, he wondered about how effective the CAT program was in the past.
"I think the bait car program is a great idea. I think the key is going to be the follow through. If you catch the offenders who are often times juveniles there has to be a significant enough consequence to deter them from reoffending," Morales said. "Not that we want to see everybody locked up, we don’t."