Is Police Reform Possible In Wisconsin?

With calls to defund or even dismantle the police, law enforcement reform has become a major topic of discussion recently. Concerns are expansive, from use of force such as chokeholds to no-knock warrants to the sheer amount of the police budget in a time when budgets in other areas are being reigned in. Surprisingly, these efforts are not as partisan as some constituents may believe.

“A Very Human Platform”

According to an article from the Wisconsin Examiner, both Democrats and Republicans have been involved in discussions about what can be done to address the outcries of the community over police brutality and other law enforcement concerns. As Wisconsin State Assembly member Evan Goyke states, “This is not a Democratic platform, it’s a very human platform.”

Representative LaKeshia Myers and the Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus have been leaders in these discussions, urging the governor to take action and listen to the concerns of the community. On June 19th, Governor Tony Evers introduced a group of police reform bills. These bills would address matters such as police use of force. The governor has explained that he considers these bills to be the first stage in a larger, ongoing project.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke has also been in talks with the Legislative Black Caucus. He has said that he tends to stand with the members of that group. He has also voiced disagreement with the governor’s plan to start small. Instead, he said, “If we’re going to do something, we need something big.”

Another voice that has been involved in these discussions is Senator Van Wanggaard, a former police officer with more than three decades of experience. According to the article, he does agree with some of the governor’s proposals, but strongly disagrees with others. Separately, his team has been working on issues pertaining to law enforcement use of force events that could potentially change how police handle these matters in the field.

Action Is Being Taken Elsewhere

While legislation is moving slowly, fast action has been taken in other sectors. School systems statewide and nationwide have terminated contracts with police. Both Madison and Milwaukee schools have announced that they are ending their relationships with their respective police departments. Various private businesses are also taking action independently.

As this discussion continues, it is important for people to remain aware that they have rights when confronted by police, when detained by police, when arrested by police and more.