A Wisconsin police group wants to play an assertive role in driving the conversation about policing reforms following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, a group leader said.
The Wisconsin Professional Police Association last week put out a detailed, 14-page plan called “A Blueprint for Change.” The group’s recommendations include uniform statewide policies on the use of force; body cameras for every police force in Wisconsin; and riot penalties for people who intentionally take part in violence or destruction.
WPPA executive director Jim Palmer said his organization has been working on the plan for several months, following the death of George Floyd at the hands of police in Minneapolis.
“We really wanted to come together and play a proactive and assertive role in driving the dialogue, rather than constantly having to be in a responsive posture,” Palmer said Sunday on “UpFront,” produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.
Palmer said the public conversation around policing has “become more intense and more polarizing” after Floyd’s death and the Blake shooting.
“We believe that’s a dynamic that doesn’t serve the public well and doesn’t serve law enforcement officers well,” Palmer said.
A Kenosha police officer shot Blake in the back seven times while trying to take him into custody last month. Blake survived, but his family says he is now paralyzed from the waist down. The shooting sparked nights of demonstrations in Kenosha with riots and arsons that destroyed dozens of small businesses.
Palmer said the WPPA is in a “unique position” to drive the discussion.
“It’s OK to support the cause for social justice, and at the same time, support law enforcement and their vital role that they play in keeping our communities safe,” Palmer said.
“We’ve become so increasingly polarized and it seems to be one or the other, and it doesn’t have to be that way, and we hope our proposals in a Blueprint for Change reflect that,” he said.
Also on the program, a leader in Kenosha’s Black community said they are moving forward, but need justice for Blake for healing to take place.
“The sense of the community is that we’re going to move forward, gonna heal, that’s one side of the community,” said James Hall of the Urban League of Racine and Kenosha.
“The other side of the community just wants justice. They don’t want this swept under the rug like all the other cases that happen around America,” Hall said.
“UpFront” host Adrienne Pedersen asked Hall what they would consider justice in this case.
“In this case, the police officers (involved) being terminated, arrested and prosecuted, and placed in jail,” Hall said.
If the investigation does not end with the officers being arrested and convicted, Hall said, “the civil unrest may occur again.”
“Because that proves the reason why the Black and brown communities do not trust the system,” Hall said.
See more from the program: http://www.wisn.com/upfront