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As I See It

Incomplete police chase data raises suspicions

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It seems the public’s mistrust of police is at an all-time high. Most of the time, that mistrust is misplaced. But sometimes people have reason to be suspicious of law enforcement. That may be the case in Wisconsin, and it has to do with the reporting of police chases. State law mandates that all police chases are to be reported to the state, but a media investigation suggests the reporting isn’t all that accurate. Gannett Media used public records to compare the state’s database with federal records, and found that the state records are incomplete at best. Using state statistics, the number of police chases being reported are about 50% less. Between 2002 and 2013, at least 28 deaths resulting from high-speed crashes have not been counted in Wisconsin’s chase statistics. Part of this is because individual police departments have failed to properly report statistics on high speed chases. But the state is also to blame. The State DOT and State Patrol oversee this reporting program haven’t released current numbers since 2007, even though the reports are supposed to be updated every two years. In light of the increased tensions between police and the public, these numbers should be reported accurately. We don’t need to give people another reason to suggest police cannot be trusted.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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