Saturday, June 9, 2018

Fire and Police Commission Approval Of Pursuit Policy For Nonviolent Offenses Has Inadvertently Cost The Life Of Milwaukee Police Officer Charles G. Irvine Jr.

A high pursuit chase by police of a reckless driver resulted in a roll over crash of a police squad car claiming the life of Milwaukee Police Officer Irvine Jr. who was the passenger (partner) of Officer Schulze who was driving and lost control of their police vehicle.

By H. Nelson Goodson
Hispanic News Network U.S.A.

June 9, 2018

Milwaukee, WI - On Saturday, Milwaukee Police Officer Matthew Schulze, 36, the driver of the police squad that lost control and rolled over in a crash claiming the life of his partner, Milwaukee Police Officer Charles G. Irvine Jr., 23, has been released from the hospital. Officer Schulze and Officer Irvine were in pursuit of a reckless driver on Thursday who failed to stop, when they got into an accident. The reckless driver of the fleeing vehicle was later stopped by other officers and three suspects, two males and one female were taken into custody pending criminal charges.
It is not clear, nor information has been made available, if both Schulze and Irvine were wearing their seatbelts. Police squad cars usually don't come equipped with roll over bars to protect officers involved in such crashes and roll overs.
Last year, the Fire and Police Commission (F&PC) approved for Milwaukee Police officers to engage in pursuits for nonviolent crimes and also in 2017, 13 members of the Milwaukee Common Council including Alderman Robert "Bob" Donovan advocated and supported less restrictions for police pursuits due the high rate of vehicles stolen and carjackings by teenagers and who flee from police to avoid arrests. 
Previously under former Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn, officers could stop pursuing alleged fleeing vehicles that were involved in certain traffic violations, if it would endanger the lives of pedestrian and other motorists. Flynn changed the Milwaukee Police Department's pursuit police in 2010 when 4 people were killed by a fleeing drivers chased by police. In 2015, the restricted pursuit policy included stolen vehicles and carjackings, which officers were limited to engage in a pursuit unless they had probable cause that those in the fleeing vehicle committed a violent crime or felony.
Officer Irvine has become the first police officer to die in the line of duty in 22 years in the City of Milwaukee and the first officer to be killed as a result of a pursuit, since the policy was changed last year to allow officers to continue to pursue drivers who commit certain traffic violations or driving stolen vehicles and fleeing from officers. 
In July 2017, the F&PC directed former Chief Flynn to place less restrictions on pursuits (chases). In September 2017, the F&PC approved a new pursuit policy that allowed officers to chase fleeing drivers for nonviolent offenses.
Milwaukee Police Chief Alfonso Morales has not taken a position on the current pursuit policy with less restrictions, but faced questions in regards to the current pursuit policy. Did Officer Schulze had an option to stop the pursuit, which could have prevented the deadly crash and death of Officer Irvine?
In an update, Chief Morales during a press conference on Friday released the following information, Around 5:00 p.m. on June 7, the officers were on duty with Officer Schulze driving and Officer Irvine the passenger. They saw a reckless vehicle being driven eastbound on W. Silver Spring Drive near N. 91st Street.
This vehicle was a Volkswagen Passat. The officers attempted to stop this vehicle by activating the squad's lights and sirens. The Passat did not pull over and began to elude officers, at which time a pursuit began. As the Passat approached 76th Street, the squad car lost control and rolled over.
MPD Members located the Passat in the 9400 block of W. Bradley Road. Its driver, a 28-year-old man, was taken into custody. He has a lengthy criminal record dating back to 2006 with several drug-related arrests.
Two associates of the suspect, a 45-year-old man and a 26-year-old woman, were also taken into custody and interviews with all three continue. The case will be presented to the Milwaukee County District Attorney's Office in the coming days for a review of charges.
During the press conference, Chief Morales told reporters that he would take several questions. But when a female reporter asked Morales about the pursuit policy, "Can you tell us if a Sergeant or someone had called off this chase prior to the accident?"
Chief Morales responded, "We have an officer that died yesterday. We are grieving and you all are trying to create controversy. We have an officer that died committed to the community. All he wanted to do was be a police officer and we loved him, could you give us some days to grieve, please."
Morales claimed that the reporter was trying to create some controversy in regards to the pursuit policy. His response has gone viral on the social networks and mainstream media.

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