CONTACT: Policy Analyst Julie Grace: [email protected]org or 330-410-6212

Key recommendations on police use-of-force policies released by the Assembly Speaker’s Task Force on Racial Disparities yesterday align with reforms put forth by the Badger Institute in recent months and should be adopted by the Legislature, according to Badger Institute Policy Analyst Julie Grace.

The recommendations issued by the Subcommittee on Law Enforcement Policies and Standards would increase transparency from police departments across the state and ultimately lead to better police-community relations.

“It’s encouraging that this diverse committee reached consensus on such an important and timely issue,” said Grace. “Any steps the Legislature can take to improve accountability, data collection and public reporting on police use-of-force incidents will provide Wisconsinites with better information and instill confidence in the system.”

Badger Institute research and recommendations on police use of force and police discipline reinforce some of the crucial Task Force recommendations:

  • Ensuring public access to use-of-force policies by requiring police departments to post them to their website or their municipality’s website.
  • Requiring statewide data collection on use-of-force incidents, including the various types of force used.
  • Determining a statewide definition for use of force by law enforcement officers.
  • Requiring law enforcement agencies to maintain employment files for officers that include performance reviews, disciplinary actions and other information, and requiring this information to be shared when another agency is interviewing an officer for a job.

To their credit, police in Wisconsin’s largest cities rarely use force when making an arrest. In Just the Facts, we reported that use of force by police officers occurs in one in every 29 arrests in Madison and one in every 30 arrests in Milwaukee. Further, the vast majority of civilian interactions with police – 95% of calls for service in Madison, for instance – do not result in an arrest. But when these incidents do occur, consistent and comparable information can be hard to find.

Proposals similar to those issued by the Task Force subcommittee are included in a package of bills spearheaded by Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and in another package proposed by Gov. Tony Evers. The Wisconsin Professional Police Association has urged lawmakers to take action on the Task Force’s recommendations.

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