NewsProject: Drive Safer


MKE’s Office of Violence Prevention director says reckless driving is 'terrorizing the entire city'

Director Ashanti Hamilton says his office is ready and willing to oversee an initiative to curb reckless driving among repeat youth offenders
OVP Director Ashanti Hamilton.png
Posted at 5:09 PM, Nov 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-18 10:06:28-05

MILWAUKEE — Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention says it wants to be a part of the solution when it comes to reckless driving.

O.V.P. Director Ashanti Hamilton says one has already been identified that would address reckless driving among repeat youth offenders. He says his office would help get it off the ground.

Hamilton knows firsthand the toll reckless driving is taking on the city. He was struck and injured a few years ago when someone ran a red light near 20th and Capitol. He also knows too many other victims end up far worse.

"It's literally terrorizing the entire city and I think that’s an act of violence,” he said,

That’s why he’s teaming up with Alderman Michael Murphy on a potential solution.

"This behavior is an assault on the public safety and health of this community and so we should include this as a type of violence we would like to curb,” Hamilton said.

Alderman Murphy came up with the partnership idea after collecting data from the district attorney’s office which shows within the past year, 523 people ages 16 and younger have been caught multiple times by police in stolen vehicles. Murphy and Hamilton believe there is a direct correlation between the stolen vehicle epidemic and the reckless driving epidemic in Milwaukee.

“I think absolutely because as soon as the kids are in these stolen vehicles, many a times, they’re making bad decisions as a joy ride and they start speeding, they don’t know the rules of the law, they don’t have licenses and then if they do get pulled over by a police officer, they speed off and we’ve seen in repeatedly up to 100 miles per hour,” Murphy said. “They’re making these really foolish decisions.”

Murphy says this new pilot program would offer wrap-around services for about a hundred of those youth by teaming up with organizations like the Boys and Girls Club, Running Rebels and Credible Messengers to name a few. They would work to get to the bottom of why kids are making these decisions and figure out how to change their behavior.

Alderman Murphy says the juvenile court system could make the program mandatory for those who judges think need the intervention.

Director Hamilton says his office’s role would primarily involve bringing the partner organizations to the table and helping make sure they have access to city, county and private funding to make it happen.

“This would be a potential solution for kids, what about adults who are behind a vast majority of these incidents?” TMJ4 asked. “We’re taking this problem like we're doing most problems that we're facing of this magnitude in the city, we’re taking it one bite at a time,” Hamilton said.

Alderman Murphy and Director Hamilton are hoping to have this program up and running in the beginning of the new year, with the goal of saving lives and changing the paths of others.

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