Towing Milwaukee reckless drivers up for vote

A proposal to make Milwaukee's streets safer by towing away unregistered vehicles involved in reckless driving goes before the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission Thursday, Feb. 17.

If the commission approves the change as written,  police would be able to start towing these vehicles on May 1. Some argue the change would have an inequitable impact.

"If you want to drive recklessly in Milwaukee, there will be consequences for your behavior," said Tyrone Dumas, "We’re not going to tolerate you threatening our quality of life."

Reckless driving is a common complaint in Milwaukee. Acting Mayor Cavalier Johnson has a multi-part plan to combat the problem, including supporting a change at the police department.

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"So we got to make sure if they’re using vehicles not just as a means for transport but using them as a weapon on our streets, that we hold them accountable and, if necessary, take those vehicles away," said Johnson.

The proposal would allow Milwaukee police to tow away unregistered vehicles if the driver is recklessly driving, going 25 miles per hour or more over the speed limit, fleeing from an officer or racing on a highway.

"There has to be consequences for this behavior," said Dumas.

At an FPC meeting in January, a number of people spoke in support of the plan but not everyone.

"I hope that we’re all recognizing that this proposal is another financial barrier placed on poor people and poor people only," said Maya Neal.

In the end, an FPC committee was deadlocked 2-2 and voted to table the issue until its next meeting. On Wednesday at a special meeting, the commissioners clarified with police how it would be implemented.  This time the committee unanimously recommended that the full commission approve the changes.

The full commission is expected to vote on this Thursday. 

The biggest difference between this proposal versus the one three weeks ago is the May 1 start date. The idea is that it gives the department a little more than two months to let people know this is coming. 

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