A few weeks ago we wrote about some truly poor decisions made by the Monona City Council (MCC) and the Monona Police Department (MOPD). You can read that article here: BAD OUTCOMES: Monona’s Poor Decision to Weaken Police Pursuit Policy in 2022 Results in Unnecessary Deaths
We sincerely hoped, after the still-unexplained pursuit that killed three people, Monona would come to its senses and permanently revert to their previous pursuit policy limiting when officers can pursue (e.g. not for misdemeanors or non violent-felony actions).
Sadly, we should have known better…
Monona logged 249 pursuits from 2019 through 2023.
The sheriff’s office, which patrols areas not covered by municipal police departments, participated in the next most, or 213. Madison saw 112 during that same period. Madison.com
So where is MOPD now. Let’s see.
First was the Chief’s interview very soon after the deadly pursuit. His January 5th “statement” is a lesson in dredging for any possible reason to “justify” a weak policy. This is IDENTICAL to statements made by virtually every other agency with equally weak and mismanaged pursuit policies. You can read that @WKOW story here: ‘The officer was acting lawfully’: Monona Police chief speaks out following fatal pursuit.
Second, as predicted, on January 17th the MOPD announced their decision to reinstate the “open” pursuit policy and let officers pretty much chase for any reason (e.g. just say “reckless” and then it’s OK). I mean, the DCI hasn’t even finished their investigation of the January 3rd pursuit and deaths, yet MOPD wants to start chasing even more – again??? Yet another BAD DECISION.
In this Madison.com article, Monona moves to reinstate police pursuit policy after fatal New Year’s Day crash, the Chief was quoted:
“He said the decision not to pursue a suspect could result in more danger to the public than if police do try to pull over a vehicle, such as when a driver appears extremely intoxicated. “Reckless driving, drunk driving, drugged driving, dangerous driving kills every day,” he said. “In this country it has taken so many lives.””
So let’s think about this.
If an officer believes a suspect is truly drunk, drugged or impaired in any other manner, why in world would a city allow that officer to CHASE them – at even higher, more dangerous speeds.
That driver is IMPAIRED. Chasing them does not make them less impaired – rather it creates a situation where the likelihood of that impairment causing great bodily harm to others is increased exponentially.
We should not lay all the blame for poor decisions on the new Chief. The Monona City Council, and perhaps Alderman Patrick DePula specifically, carry the greatest culpability in allowing such a policy to be reinstated.
The Council will be back in the news, very likely in 2024, when more INNOCENT CITIZENS are killed or maimed in an unnecessary misdemeanor violation police chase. I suspect the city’s insurer may be interested in the history of MOPD’s policies, because the likelihood of a justified, multi-million dollar lawsuit, is imminent under current policies.
Oh, MOPD, did you know that there are technology and driver training tools available designed to PREVENT UNNECESSARY PURSUITS? Yes, there are.
It breaks my heart that others will also need live with the knowledge that a poorly thought out decision and a misguided pursuit policy took the life of someone they love. I hope it’s not a member of your family or a close friend…
Just in case you think we’re the only ones who think that MOPD’s pursuit policy is bad, we’re not. Read the excellent 1/21/2024 WSJ opinion. [Wisconsin State Journal] OUR VIEW: Monona should rethink, tighten policy on police pursuits in wake of triple-fatal crash