Many worried after crashes in Sherman Park

Posted at 12:33 PM, Jun 02, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-02 18:23:00-04

MILWAUKEE -- A group of citizens said reckless driving in Milwaukee has gotten so bad they’re fearing for their lives.

Testifying before the city’s Public Safety Committee, locals who live in the Sherman Park Neighborhood singled out intersections on Capitol Drive at Sherman, 60th, and Fond du Lac as particularly troubling.

“This has been a growing problem for our neighborhood,” said Steve O’Connell, who lives in Sherman Park.

O’Connell spoke about lives lost in recent crashes at 39th and Locust, as well as the intersection at Roosevelt and Fond du Lac. He also said he’s troubled by the damage to infrastructure that reckless driving causes.

“It’s not just lives that are in jeopardy. It’s city tax dollars,” O’Connell said.

O’Connell said he feels Milwaukee police are not treating the issue with enough urgency. He claimed MPD turned down a traffic enforcement grant from the DOT in 2014.

“How would they turn that down? That’s amazing to me," O’Connell said.

When asked by committee members if that was the case, MPD Inspector Michael Brunson said he was still looking into the allegation.

“The captain that was in charge at that time has since retired, so that’s something we’re going to have to follow up on to find out,” Brunson said. “I don’t think we’d turn down something that would help with safety in the city.”

Brunson said MPD will soon begin using Data Driven Approaches to Crime and Traffic Safety – or DDACTS – to try and crack down on reckless driving.

“We obtain data, and then use that data to deploy to specific areas we're going to focus on,” Brunson said of the DDACTS system. He said DDACTS can be used thanks to a pair of $50,000 grants MPD received for traffic enforcement.

He said MPD can use DDACTS to cycle extra patrol officers through at least four different areas.

O’Connell said MPD only received the grants because he and his neighbors applied for them.

“We need to get people to take this seriously,” O’Connell said.

Brunson also said traffic citations from January 1 to April 30 of this year are up 24 percent, and that total traffic crashes in the city are down compared to this time last year.

He said the public can assist MPD in cracking down on speeding and other problematic driving.

“Come forward and complain,” Brunson said. “Aldermanic service requests and all those things can be utilized to address traffic issues we can't hit with these specific (DDACTS) grants.”

O’Connell said he and his neighbors will stand out on Capitol Drive at 10:30 a.m. Saturday holding signs about traffic safety in an effort to bring awareness to their cause.