Alderman Donovan, Milwaukee Police Chief Flynn do not see eye-to-eye on police pursuits

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Milwaukee Alderman Bob Donovan sent a letter to Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn on Tuesday, April 7th -- asking that the chief rescind the Milwaukee Police Department’s current policy on vehicle pursuits.

In the letter to Chief Flynn, Donovan said the current policy, put in place by Chief Flynn in 2010, is having a negative effect on public safety across the city.

"It's out of control! Anyone who is satisfied with the level of safety in this community is nuts! And why more people aren't raising hell about this is beyond me," Alderman Donovan said.

Alderman Donovan, who is running for mayor, said police sources have indicated to him that in the first three months of 2015, there were some 750 instances in which vehicles would have been pursued under the former pursuit policy. Donovan believes MPD's policy on pursuits is part of what has allowed vehicle thefts to become an epidemic in Milwaukee.

Donovan said in a statement:

"These criminals are literally thumbing their noses and flipping off officers as they drive off, knowing that officers will not pursue them."

"We've got officers that are being laughed at and ridiculed and flipped off and sadly, not a hell of a lot that they can do about it," Donovan said.

According to the Milwaukee Police Department, 1,500 cars have been stolen this year. That's more than 15 cars per day, and that's a big increase when compared with last year.

"To handcuff those officers and say 'let the hoodlums run wild' is beyond me," Donovan said.

The Milwaukee Police Department changed its pursuit policy in 2010 after five innocent people were killed during police chases.

"No innocent people have been killed since this policy has been enacted," Chief Flynn said back in 2014.

Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn issued the following statement in response to Donovan's comments on Wednesday afternoon:

"I agree it can be frustrating for our hard-working officers to see non-violent criminals speed away from them at traffic stops.  But my primary responsibility as Chief is to protect life: the lives of the innocent, the lives of police officers and the lives of offenders.  Following the deaths of five innocent parties during police pursuits our policy was changed in March of 2010.  Since then, there has been a drastic reduction in the number of pursuits, the percentage of pursuits resulting in crashes, injuries to officers, and deaths.  So far this year, two senior citizens and two juveniles have been killed either by or in stolen cars.  Would the Alderman be happier if the Police Department had been chasing them at the moment of impact?  As he is a member of the Public Safety Committee, I would urge him to request a meeting to discuss this topic in detail rather than engage in his typical press release bombast.  I also suggest he invite the families of the individuals killed during police pursuits and solicit their opinions."

Donovan says the numbers he's received from his sources speak for themselves.

"Wake up! All I'm saying is let's get the bulls by the horns and get something done here before it is too late," Donovan said.

Four people have died this year in incidents involving stolen cars. None of those vehicles were being pursued.

Milwaukee police say the last six weeks has brought some good news as it relates to vehicle thefts, which are down by about nine percent.