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Last updated March 5, 2020
No knock warrants
Wisconsin has not yet enacted a law eliminating the use of no-knock warrants. In June 2020, Gov. Tony Evers introduced LRB 6289 to ban the use of no-knock warrants. However, in the special session Gov. Tony Evers (D) called in August, Republican legislators refused to consider police reform legislation.
Wisconsin has not yet enacted a law ending its participation in programs that facilitate the transfer of military weapons from the federal government to police departments.
Military style training
Wisconsin has not yet enacted a law refocusing training away from self-defense responses and towards community centered training like that offered by Blue Courage. Some local departments have begun reassessing their training practices, but Wisconsin has yet to take statewide action to address this problem.
Wisconsin has not yet enacted a law requiring the recording and cataloging of SWAT team use.
Civil asset forfeiture
On April 5, 2018, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R) signed into law a forfeiture reform bill requiring law enforcement officials to obtain a criminal conviction before permanently taking a person's cash or property, making Wisconsin the 15th state to do so.
Wisconsin law prohibits a law enforcement agency from requiring a police officer to issue a specific number of citations or warnings during any specific time period.
Cost of misconduct
Wisconsin has not yet enacted a law requiring police departments (not state general funds) to cover the cost of misconduct.
Spitting in public and jaywalking are misdemeanor, civil offences, punishable by a fine, not arrest, in Wisconsin.
First time marijuana possession is a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine.
Objective justification for stops
Wisconsin has not yet enacted a law requiring officers to establish objective justification for making a stop (i.e. not simply for furtive movement, suspicious activity, or matching a generalized description).
Reporting stop details
Wisconsin has not yet enacted a law requiring comprehensive reporting of police stops (noting location, race, gender, whether force was used and whether a firearm was found). A previous 2009 requirement for this type of reporting was repealed in 2011 by the state legislature. In June 2020, Gov. Tony Evers (D) introduced LRB 6283 to mandate that the Wisconsin Department of Justice collect and publish information on use of force incidents, including the presence and use of a weapon and the demographic characteristics of the officer and effected person. In the special session Gov. Evers called in August, Republican legislators refused to consider police reform legislation.
Reckless civil rights violation
Wisconsin has not yet enacted a law lowering the prosecution requirement from ‘willful’ to ‘reckless’ deprivation of another’s rights.
In April 2014, Wisconsin enacted a law requiring independent investigations of officer-involved deaths. Wisconsin was the first state in
the country to pass a law requiring independent investigations of officer involved deaths. The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal
Investigations (DCI) has led most investigations since January 2015. However, the decision to press charges against officers remains with district attorneys.
Wisconsin has not yet enacted a law ending qualified immunity.
Mental health response
Wisconsin has not yet enacted a law creating and funding a mental health task force available to respond to crisis calls (in lieu of police). Locally, The Janesville Police
Department in Rock County uses a flagging system in the county law-enforcement records system that alerts officers if an individual has symptoms of mental illness and helps them respond more appropriately. This program could serve as a model for the rest of the state.
Education, Housing, Community Health Resources
It is important to note that policing does not address the roots of social disadvantage and barriers to (economic) opportunity that often lead to crime. Nor should police be burdened with that responsibility.
Without access to quality resources in healthcare, education, and housing, our cities, neighborhoods, and families will continue to suffer. We should instead reassess the budgets of the state government and reinvest in the services that matter most.
Of note, Gov. Evers introduced LRB 6275 in June 2020 to fund community organizations using evidence-based outreach to mitigate conflict. In the special session Gov. Evers called in August, Republican legislators refused to consider police reform legislation.
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