MILWAUKEE - Nobody cares about reckless driving except "older people."
That's what one of Milwaukee's most persistent violators said just moments after a court hearing for driving with a revoked license. FOX6 Investigator Bryan Polcyn caught up with a young man police have pulled over 35 times in three years.
"I mean, I be in fast cars. What do you expect me to do?" said 24-year-old Dirul Chaplin just moments after walking out of the Waukesha County Courthouse where he appeared in a pre-trial conference for driving with a revoked license.
"I'm just going down the street, doing normal stuff," he said.
FOX6's investigation found police, sheriff's deputies and the Wisconsin State Patrol have repeatedly stopped Chaplin for blowing red lights, fleeing from police and barreling down city streets at 20, 30 – even 40 mph or more over the speed limit.
Dirul Chaplin traffic violations
"That’s just speeding," Chaplin said. "That’s not reckless driving."
From 2019 to 2021, police pulled Chaplin over 35 times. Last summer, Milwaukee police and the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office stopped him eight times in 33 days with no license plates, registration, insurance or driver's license.
"No," Chaplin said when asked if he worried about killing himself or someone else. "I don’t be going that crazy. There’s kids out here that shaking they nay (sic). I ain’t doin’ all that. I’m just driving fast."
Dirul Chaplin traffic violations
And every time he's caught driving fast, police let him drive away (illegally). FOX6 asked Chaplin why he thinks that is.
"Cause there ain’t nothing they can do about it," Chaplin replied.
"That terrifies me," said Jordan Morales, a resident of Sherman Park. The Milwaukee neighborhood is one of the city's epicenters of reckless driving.
"What’s the mentality behind this?" asked Steve O'Connell, the chair of Sherman Park's Reckless Driving Committee.
"Even in a 35 mph zone," Polcyn asked, "you think going 80…"
Chaplin cut him off: "Don't even matter. People don’t care about that. That's just, you know, the older people care about that."
"Someone like that," O'Connell said, "you’re not going to change until the whole community says, ‘Excuse me, but you’re a danger.’"
"You’re a ticking time bomb," said Morales, who has three young kids he's afraid to allow to play outside. "I did not sign up to get T-boned by a kid going 80 miles an hour."
Both Morales and O'Connell pushed the city to install traffic-calming features like speed humps in their neighborhood to slow drivers down. They're also proponents of curb extensions that make it harder for drivers to pass on the right at stoplights and intersections. But when it comes to the most persistent violators, they say, engineering is not enough.
"I'd like that guy to go to jail and not pass go," Morales said.
Last month, Milwaukee police started towing vehicles involved in reckless driving incidents under limited circumstances. For instance, a driver going 25 mph or more over the limit in an unregistered car is a candidate for towing. But officers still have an option.
"We don’t want officers waiting for tows for hours on end," said Milwaukee Police Captain Jeffrey Sunn, head of MPD's Traffic Safety Unit.
Since the tow policy took effect May 1st, police have cited 320 drivers for going at least 25 mph over the limit. They towed 45 of those cars. As for the rest, an MPD spokesman said he does not know how many had unregistered cars. The department does not track when an officer uses discretion, he said.
"This gentlemen's car is a beautiful candidate," said Morales, referring to Chaplin.
MPD reckless driving tow initiative data
But police have yet to tow Chaplin's car. And according to Chaplin, he hasn't been behind the wheel. Since our investigation aired in April, he says, he's been feeling a little heat.
"I mean, I ain’t driving right now, cause my (probation officer) is on my ass," Chaplin said.
Chaplin is currently serving two years probation on a felony conviction for fleeing from police in 2019. His state supervision is set to expire this summer.
FOX6 watched as he left the Waukesha County Courthouse, opened the passenger door of a car and got in. Turns out, this time, he got a ride.