Milwaukee’s drop in police pursuits for safety reasons had unintended consequences for neighboring communities. Wochit
GLENDALE – The 130 police pursuits initiated by the Glendale Police Department last year caused $226,200 in damage and 25 injuries.
In Milwaukee, meanwhile, officers engaged in at least 369 chases last year, with at least 52 chases involving injuries and two involving deaths, according to a Milwaukee Police Department spokeswoman.
Wauwatosa police reported 16 injuries and $87,000 in damage stemming from 151 pursuits last year.
Brown Deer’s 33 police pursuits last year resulted in one death, eight injuries and $138,500 in damage. Three of the injuries were to bystanders.
Greenfield police logged 101 chases, eight injuries and $147,675 in damage.
North Shore Now first reported in January on the increasing number of police pursuits in Glendale, Brown Deer and other Milwaukee County suburbs. That report did not include state data about the injuries or damages caused by pursuits.
Over the past five years, Glendale’s pursuits have climbed from eight to 19 to 51 to 83 to a record 130 in 2017.
In January, Glendale Police Capt. Mark Ferguson said the uptick in police pursuits corresponds with a large increase in juvenile offenders driving stolen cars. He said the minors driving those cars are using the cars to deal drugs, rob people and burglarize homes.
Of the 25 injuries sustained during Glendale’s police pursuits last year, 10 stemmed from an incident on Oct. 6 in which a stolen Acura filled with six teenage boys collided with a school bus carrying the bus driver, her 2-month-old baby and two other children.
Although Glendale set a new department record with 130 pursuits last year, police pointed out that 71 of those pursuits were terminated because of officers’ safety concerns. Another 24 of those pursuits ended with the suspect escaping.
Glendale police said these statistics show that officers, unlike fleeing drivers, are operating with due regard and will terminate a pursuit when the risks to public safety outweigh the benefits of an arrest.
Glendale’s policy allows pursuits to be initiated when “the necessity of immediate apprehension outweighs the level of danger created by the pursuit.” Other departments, such as Milwaukee, limit officers from pursuing drivers over minor offenses if no imminent danger exists.
Other first-ring Milwaukee County suburbs have seen pursuits spike proportional to the levels seen in Glendale. Wauwatosa’s police pursuits jumped tenfold, from 15 to 151 in the past five years. Greenfield has skyrocketed from seven to 101. West Allis’ pursuits multiplied from 11 to 156.
In Brown Deer, police pursuits have surged in the past five years from three to five to 18 to 26 to 33. The increase in Brown Deer’s pursuits is partially due to Brown Deer Police Chief Michael Kass changing the department’s pursuit policy when he was hired in 2014.
Previously, Brown Deer officers were allowed to pursue only in the case of a violent felony. Now, Kass said, officers can pursue for any crime, but they must be able to articulate a probable cause.
Other North Shore police departments have seen an increase in police pursuits, but not as notable as the spikes seen in Glendale, Brown Deer, Greenfield, West Allis and Wauwatosa.
Whitefish Bay pursued twice in 2014, eight times in 2015, 15 times in 2016 and 11 times in 2017.
Bayside pursued once in 2013, twice in 2014, nine times in 2015, seven times in 2016 and five times in 2017.
Shorewood reported zero pursuits in 2013 and 2014, one pursuit in 2015, three in 2016 and six in 2017.
In Mequon, pursuits in the last five years have risen from one to three to six to eight to nine.
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