Disparities in Milwaukee traffic stops are driven by the racial makeup of high-crime neighborhoods that most need police intervention, Police Chief Edward Flynn told council members yesterday, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Flynn said research had shown that when police “aggressively enforce traffic laws, they have a direct impact on street crime.”
Under Flynn’s leadership, the department has more than tripled the number of traffic stops over the past four years. The number of citizen complaints fell 44 percent during the same period. More than 80 percent of drivers stopped in four police districts were black, but those disparities are merely a reflection of the suspect and victim demographics in those areas, Flynn said. Last December, the Journal Sentinel reported that black Milwaukee drivers were seven times more likely to be stopped than white resident drivers. Hispanic drivers were stopped nearly five times as often. After a state law requiring law enforcement agencies to collect such information was repealed last year, Alderman Milele Coggs sponsored a resolution that urged Milwaukee police to continue collecting information about the race of those involved in police traffic stops.