La Crosse area lawmakers want bipartisan support for Wisconsin police reform

Wisconsin Assembly's racial justice task force offer 18 law enforcement recommendations Wednesday
Wi Policing Recommendations

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – A group of lawmakers is offering recommendations for law enforcement in Wisconsin following yesterday’s verdict in the Chauvin murder trial. Now it’s up to lawmakers to decide whether this advice should become law.

The Wisconsin assembly’s racial justice task force gave 18 recommendations for police training and transparency. Everything from reporting officers who use excessive force to offering more public knowledge on use of force policies, as well as consistent records of decisions made by officers in the field. The group stopped short Wednesday of calling for a total ban on chokeholds and no-knock warrants.

“If we have the transparency that explains the why then a lot of that suspicion that we have in our community tends to go away,” Democratic Rep. Steve Doyle said.

Doyle said this report is a good first step and bipartisan support will help Wisconsin.

“We’ve got the recommendations but we still have to get them passed.

“It doesn’t have to be an us versus them,” Doyle said.

Republican Rep. Nancy VanderMeer told News 8 Now in a statement she continues to speak with and hear from local law enforcement professionals in the district.

She said in part, quote, “I can share that I have no plans to support anything that restricts or prevents the outstanding law enforcement officers in the 70th Assembly District from protecting our citizens, keeping our communities safe, or performing their challenging and noble duties.”

Jim Palmer is the executive director for the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, which supports these recommendations. Palmer said this is an opportunity to hear from every voice in Wisconsin.

“I think law enforcement can learn how communities of color and other disenfranchised individuals, how they’re affected by certain practices,” Palmer said. “I can tell you there are things that I learned.”

Doyle said many officers he spoke with say they agree with the proposals lawmakers released.

“By and large I’m hearing most police officers saying this is a good thing,” Doyle said.

Late Wednesday afternoon, Governor Evers ordered the Wisconsin State Patrol and other state law enforcement agencies to update their use of force policies to prohibit chokeholds, unless used as a last resort. The executive order came after the Assembly’s task force issued its recommendations.