A state appeals court this week upheld 15-day suspensions without pay for two Milwaukee police officers who confronted, swore at, and manhandled a man who was walking in the street.
The District I Court of Appeals panel rejected the officers' claim that the suspensions ordered by the Fire and Police Commission amounted to "employment double jeopardy."
Officers Brian Young and Bradley Johnson failed, the panel said in an unsigned opinion, "to provide Wisconsin authority of any kind establishing the existence of, and certainly not the specifics of, 'employment double jeopardy.'”
The ruling by Appeals Judges Brian W. Blanchard, Timothy G. Dugan, and M. Joseph Donald upheld a lower court decision by Milwaukee County Circuit Judge William Sosnay.
Young and Johnson were in uniform, patrolling a violent crime area in April 2016 when they saw a man identified as J.B. in the street on W. Concordia Ave. J.B. was about seven feet from the curb. By the time the officers drove up to him, J.B. was about two feet from the curb.
One of the officers told J.B. to "come here" and "step forward," according to the decision. J.B. responded with "don't touch me" and "for what?"
"Approximately 11 seconds after the officers opened their car doors to make contact with J.B., they placed their hands on him and tried to push his hands behind his back," the decision said. "However, J.B. kept his arms stiff as the officers continued to try to pin his arms behind his back. An officer asked if J.B. had 'weed' (marijuana) or a gun, and J.B. denied possession of either."
Young had a hand on J.B.'s shoulder. Johnson pointed a Taser at J.B. and yelled "Get on your knees now or I'm to tase your ass" and "Get down, get down on your f---ing knees."
The officers told J.B. to sit on the curb, but he refused. J.B. said he had done nothing wrong; one of the officers, according to Fire and Police Commission findings, said that J.B's "offense is standing in the roadway."
An officer told J.B. to sit on the curb and threatened to tase him if he did not comply. Young and Johnson struggled with J.B., trying to take him down, but were unsuccessful.
Johnson pointed the Taser at J.B. and yelled "Get on the f---ing ground." The two again attempted to bring J.B. down and this time were successful. The officers handcuffed J.B. about two minutes and 18 seconds after they got out of the car.
Then-Police Chief Edward Flynn determined that Young and Johnson violated the department's citizen contact protocol, which requires that officers, as much as safety conditions allow, introduce themselves to citizens with whom they make contact. The officers are to give their name, rank or title, their Police Department affiliation, and the reason for the contact or stop. The officers also had violated the Police Department's code of conduct and a requirement that officers be familiar with and abide by department policies, procedures, and training.
The Fire and Police Commission imposed the suspensions, and the officers appealed to Circuit Court, where Sosnay ruled against them.
Their double jeopardy argument on appeal stemmed from their getting counseled by a supervisor soon after the incident. The Fire and Police Commission found that counseling was not discipline, the appeals panel said, adding that "the scant legal authority offered by the officers raises more questions than it does answers."
The appeals court also rejected the officers' contention that the commission lost jurisdiction over the case because it took longer than 10 days to issue a written decision, as its own rules call for. That rule is not mandatory, the panel said.
The panel also found that the commission based its decision on the violations that Flynn alleged and rejected the officers' argument the department rules and standards they were accused of violating were "extremely vague and overbroad."
The Milwaukee Common Council on Tuesday unanimously approved spending $100,000 to fund a lawyer to represent indigent defendants in Municipal Court.
The money will come from the city's federal Community Development Block Grant allocation. The lawyer will be provided through a contract with Legal Action of Wisconsin. The funding proposal was part of a package that was approved without discussion.
A short-term pilot project of the defense lawyer program last year was successful, but the city originally chose not to extend the program in 2020.
The Wisconsin Justice Initiative advocated for the city to fund the pilot project and to restore the defense lawyer position.
"This is great news and a big step toward fairness in Municipal Court," WJI Executive Director Gretchen Schuldt said. "Mayor Barrett and the Common Council deserve a big round of applause for their support."
She noted the city took about two years to prepare a contract for the 2019 pilot.
"That kind of delay can't happen again," she said. "There are tickets issued during the George Floyd protests in the Municipal Court pipeline, some of them questionable. There needs to be a defense lawyer available to help those who need it."
Alderman Michael J. Murphy, the budget amendment that created the pilot program, said he was pleased with the new council vote.
“This program has been exceptional in helping indigent defendants who would otherwise be stymied in their ability to work their cases to a more positive outcome, because of poverty, unpaid citations, or driver’s license issues,” he said.
The city is not legally obligated to provide defense counsel to Municipal Court defendants who cannot afford to hire their own lawyers. That obligation is limited to criminal courts – Municipal Court is considered a civil court and the monetary penalties levied there are considered civil forfeitures.
By Margo Kirchner
Criminal law rarely provides justice in cases of police brutality and violence because convictions are so difficult to obtain even with video evidence, according to a Villanova University law school associate dean.
“It’s hard to win cases against police officers, and because plaintiffs usually lose, police are not deterred from their bad behavior,” said Teressa Ravenell, who also is a professor at Villanova’s Charles Widger School of Law.
Ravenell made her comments during the American Constitution Society’s recent briefing call on police violence and systematic racism in the U.S. legal system. ACS held the call in response to the killing of George Floyd and waves of protest across the country.
Ravenell said that federal law allows individuals to sue when their civil rights are violated by government actors, but that law has not prevented police violence either.
The law, Section 1983, has become “another example of systematic failure,” she remarked. The statute is “not inherently flawed,” but the U.S. Supreme Court’s interpretation of the statute has caused it to fail, she said. Problematic interpretation of Section 1983 includes the judge-made doctrine of qualified immunity, Ravenell said.
The qualified immunity doctrine protects public officials from civil liability unless their conduct violates a clearly established constitutional right about which a reasonable person would have known. The Supreme Court has written that the doctrine protects "all but the plainly incompetent or those who knowingly violate the law” and balances the need to hold public officials accountable when they act irresponsibly with the need to shield them from harassment, distraction, and liability when they perform their duties reasonably.
In a 2018 dissent, however, Justice Sonia Sotomayor wrote that the doctrine “tells officers that they can shoot first and think later, and it tells the public that palpably unreasonable conduct will go unpunished.”
The doctrine has recently shielded officers from liability for stealing $225,000 while executing a search warrant, shooting a 10-year-old boy in his backyard while pursuing a suspect, and slamming to the ground a woman who turned to walk away from an officer toward her daughter, rendering the woman unconscious.
Ravenell set forth five large hurdles plaintiffs face under current law, which in her view result in continued racist law enforcement.
First, the Supreme Court’s Fourth Amendment cases give police officers too much power to stop, investigate, and arrest Black people. Police may legally stop someone if an officer has reasonable suspicion to think that criminal activity is afoot, and that standard can be met when a person acts evasively in a high-crime area. Ravenell called “high-crime area” a “fancy way” of saying poor, Black neighborhoods. As a result, Blacks are more likely to be stopped by police. Further, Blacks are pulled over for traffic violations more than any other group, she said.
Second, the Court’s Fourth Amendment cases give police officers too much license to use force. The court has allowed officers to use deadly force when they reasonably believe a person poses an immediate threat of harm to the officer or others, and too often officers view unarmed Black men as threats, Ravenell said. Ravenell proposed that the qualified immunity standard should at the least be transformed from considering what a reasonable or average officer would do to what a well-trained officer would do in the situation.
Third, Ravenell said, under current law plaintiffs face too many causation problems because they must establish which specific officers harmed them. For instance, a protester shot by a rubber bullet must show which officer fired the shot. But that is impossible if officers will not testify against each other, she remarked.
Fourth, the qualified immunity defense protects officers in too many situations when the law was not clearly established at the time the officers acted. “Many people are writing about this right now,” she said, adding that “we need to eliminate the qualified immunity defense.”
Fifth, even when plaintiffs succeed, verdicts against officers fail to alter conduct because officers do not pay the verdicts against them; taxpayers do.
Ravenell closed by noting that the failure to fire violent officers also played a role in creating the current crisis. The officer who killed George Floyd had 18 prior complaints against him, she noted. Ravenell compared the vastly greater money spent on monitoring parolees with that spent on monitoring police.
“We need to ensure that police departments have the incentive and the means to terminate the recidivist officers,” plus a database to track them so they are not hired by other communities, she said.
Another call participant, Taja-Nia Henderson, a professor at Rutgers Law School and dean of the Rutgers Graduate School, discussed the historical predicates for police abuses today.
Henderson described how policing in the United States has always been linked to property interests and the control of black and brown bodies.
By Margo Kirchner
Voters who approved an amendment to the state constitution that killed a safeguard for fair trials in criminal cases were not adequately informed by the amendment's wording what voting “yes” on the referendum would actually do, the Wisconsin Justice Initiative and others argue in seeking to have the amendment invalidated.
The “Marsy’s Law” amendment eliminates a defendant’s right to have an alleged victim kept out of the courtroom if that is necessary to ensure a fair trial. Marsy’s Law allows the alleged victim to attend all proceedings, even if that clearly jeopardizes the possibility of a fair trial.
WJI and fellow plaintiffs WJI Board President Craig Johnson, WJI Treasurer Jacqueline Boynton, attorney Jerome Buting, and State Sen. Fred Risser (D-Madison) recently filed their motion and supporting brief to strike the new amendment from the state constitution. The plaintiffs contend that the ballot question was defective, voiding the referendum's outcome.
The plaintiffs are asking Dane County Circuit Judge Frank Remington to invalidate the measure, approved by voters in April.
“WJI made the point … in our filing that the question voters confronted on the ballot in April didn’t give them a clue as to the far-ranging and potentially devastating effects that Marsy’s Law will have on our criminal justice system,” WJI’s Johnson said.
The amendment is "deceptively sweeping," Attorney Dennis Grzezinski, representing the plaintiffs, said in a brief.
The ballot question asked simply whether a section of the constitution already setting forth victims’ rights should “be amended to give crime victims additional rights, to require that the rights of crime victims be protected with equal force to the protections afforded the accused while leaving the federal constitutional rights of the accused intact, and to allow crime victims to enforce their rights in court.”
The plaintiffs argue in their brief that the question violated the constitution and Wisconsin Supreme Court precedent in at least three ways.
First, they say, the question failed to fully and fairly inform voters of every essential element of the amendment.
Pointing to long-standing case law, the plaintiffs argue that the Supreme Court allows the Legislature discretion in formulating a ballot question, but that discretion has limits. The court has said a ballot question must “reasonably, intelligently, and fairly comprise or have reference to every essential of the amendment” so the public “may be fully informed on the subject” on which they are voting.
Grzezinksi argues that not all the essentials of the Marsy’s Law amendment — which runs more than twice the length of the U.S. Bill of Rights — were included in the ballot question. Among other things, say the plaintiffs, the amendment also
WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted during the 2019-20 session.
2019 Act 112 increases the penalty for intimidating a witness when the witness is a victim of domestic abuse. Intimidating a witness, except when there are aggravating circumstances, is a misdemeanor carrying a maximum penalty of nine months in jail and a $10,000 fine. The bill makes intimidating a domestic violence victim punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a $25,000 fine.
The law was introduced as Assembly Bill 804. Its companion bill was SenateBill 767.
The lead authors of AB 804 were State Representatives Daniel Knodl (R-Germantown) and Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin). The lead sponsors of SB 767 were State Senators Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and Andre Jacques (R-DePere).
The measure passed the Assembly on a 67-32 vote, generally along party lines. Four Democrats joined all Republicans in voting for the measure. The four were Steve Doyle (D-Onalaska), Beth Meyers (D-Bayfield), Nick Milroy (D-South Range), and Robyn Vining (D-Wauwatosa). The Senate also approved the measure with only Senators Mark Miller (D-Monona) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) opposing it.
Gov. Tony Evers signed it into law on Feb. 28,2020.
No fiscal estimates were filed.
Knodl and Darling - Prosecutors and law enforcement have highlighted the growing problem of witness intimidation in Wisconsin. Milwaukee, in particular, has been hard hit, with a recent Journal-Sentinel investigation identifying that 23% of charged homicide cases were impacted by documented instances of witnesses failing to appear in court to testify. Despite Milwaukee being a national leader in proactive actions to prevent witness intimidation, it remains a problem in the city and throughout the state. Increasing protections for crime victims and witnesses is important, particularly in cases of domestic abuse. We should be making it harder for criminals to continue terrorizing our communities, not easier. This legislation moves us in the right direction.
State Public Defender’s Office - As with most penalty enhancers or mandatory minimum sentences, evidence does not demonstrate that they serve as an effective deterrent.
The bill is unlike other laws that increase the penalty for witness intimidation because it is based on the underlying crime, not the degree or type of intimidation involved, SPD said.
This could present the hypothetical scenario that intimidation of a witness in a domestic abuse crime is treated more severely that intimidation of a witness in a homicide even if the type of intimidation employed is similar.
End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin – The intent of this legislation is laudable, and we appreciate and share lawmakers' goal of supporting survivors. However, End Abuse opposes the idea that increased sentencing is the solution to ending domestic violence. Criminalization has been the primary response to domestic abuse in the U.S. for 30 years, and the results are disappointing. The failure of the criminal legal system to seriously decrease neither incidence nor the severity of intimate partner violence highlights the limits of a one-dimensional approach to a multi-dimensional problem. Increasing penalties will do very little to protect survivors of violence....
Imagine the impact this legislation would have on a victim, assumed to be an abuser, entering the criminal legal system. Requiring that victim intimidation in domestic violence cases is charged as a felony, rather than looking at incidents on a case by case basis, removes judicial discretion and the exploration of other remedies or appropriate charges.
Intimate partner violence (IPV) has overlapping economic, community, public health, and human rights facets. Viewing intimate partner violence through each of these frames opens new avenues for addressing the problem. IPV will continue unabated if policymakers continue to focus on punishment and fail to focus on economic inequality and instability. The evidence is clear that IPV is more prevalent and more severe in the context of economic distress. Poor people, particularly poor women, are more vulnerable to IPV and few policy dollars are allocated to programs that would directly reduce that risk.
Victims and advocates talk frequently about lack of access to legal aid, underfunding of county victim witness units, chronically overworked and underpaid DAs and public defenders, restrictions on access to Medicaid and other lifesaving benefits, sparse or nonexistent affordable housing in their area, and an insufficient focus on interpersonal violence in our education system. These are just a handful of resources that can, when made accessible and adequately funded, make a difference. Individuals who receive assistance in securing material resources are significantly less likely to experience psychological and physical abuse after leaving shelter and report greater improvements in their quality of life. Therefore, economic policy may have more potential to seriously decrease IPV than other policy interventions.
Let us not forget that incarceration is expensive. We're talking about spending a considerable amount of taxpayer dollars, over 10 years, to house an individual who has intimidated a victim. Imagine if we provided supportive housing for that victim instead. What would it look like if we used those funds to provide survivors with the support they need to live a life free from violence? What if we listened to their voices? Survivors across the state are not telling us that we need to be tougher in sentencing. They're telling us that they need affordable housing and childcare. They're telling us that their partners need help. They're telling us that incarceration is not justice.
Registering for the bill: Badger State Sheriff's Association, Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association Inc., Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association.
Registering against the bill: City of Milwaukee, End Domestic Violence: the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Wisconsin District Attorneys Association, Wisconsin Justice Initiative Inc.
Act 132 made swatting a felony. Swatting is reporting false information to law enforcement that is intended to spur, or could actually spur, a response from a specialized tactical team.
Previously, some false emergency reports were misdemeanors or punishable by fines, though making a bomb threat and or threatening to release a harmful substance were felonies.
Under the new law, swatting by itself is now punishable by up to 3 ½ years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If swatting results in bodily harm, the maximum penalty is up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine. If the swatting results in great bodily harm, the offender is subject to upto 15 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.
The law was introduced as Assembly Bill 454. Its companion bill was Senate Bill 363.
The lead authors of AB 454 were Tyler Vorpagel (R-Plymouth) and Cindi Duchow (R-Town of Delafield). The lead sponsors of SB 363 were Robert Cowles (R-Green Bay) and Van Wanggaard (R-Racine).
The bill passed without opposition. Gov. Tony Evers signed it into law on March 3.
No fiscal estimates were filed.
Duchow – What began as a prank has since proven to create incredibly dangerous and even deadly situations. Some may recall in late December 2017 when a man in California falsely reported a hostage situation at a home in Wichita, Kansas that resulted in the death of an innocent father who had no idea why police had surrounded his home.
Wisconsin is not immune to this as dozens of swatting incidents have been reported within the last few years in communities all across the state including Hartland, Waupaca, Madison, Sun Prairie, Fond du Lac, Appleton, Janesville, Greenfield, and Marinette County. Each of these instances wasted an incredible amount of resources and put innocent lives at risk as law enforcement officers, emergency personnel, and even full SWAT teams were mobilized to a location where no threat existed.
Cowles – A good example of how swatting can harm a community occurred just last year in Dodge County. The Dodge County 911 Center received a call from a man who said he shot a man and taken others hostage in a house in the Highway 151 and Forest Road area between Beaver Dam and Columbus. The SWAT team arrived on the scene and began to enter the residence with the intent to free the hostages. Other police responding shut down the highway for over an hour. The SWAT team entered the residence and immediately discovered no hostage situation existed and deemed it as a swatting call as defined in the bill. As the investigation was wrapping up, Dodge County received a call for an ice rescue on Fox Lake. Sheriff Dale Schmidt told reporters, "Had our deputies still been tied up on the swatting call, it is quite possible our deputies would not have been able to respond as quickly to that incident, and lives could have been put further in jeopardy."
Other more recent swatting events have happened in Wisconsin as well. In April of this year, Hartland Police responded to a call from a man who claimed he had just killed his mother and was going to hurt himself. The address the SW AT team was sent to was a house across the street from Hartland Elementary South. The school was put on lockdown and the SW AT team surrounded the residence with riot shields and heavy weaponry until the resident emerged at which point the police determined no emergency existed. Another incident occurred in July of this year, when the Dane County 911 center got a call from someone claiming to be the mother of a woman who had a gun and was threatening suicide in the bathroom of her condominium. Police swarmed and evacuated the condominium, eventually entering the residence and found nobody to be present.
Registering for the bill: Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, Wisconsin EMS Association, and Wisconsin Professional Police Association.
Registering against the bill: League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Inc., with the comment, LWVWI supports a primary reliance on alternatives to incarceration.
By Gretchen Schuldt
The decline in the state's population slowed markedly in the past two weeks as the state started accepting new inmates from counties, a practice it suspended March 23 in an effort to block the importation of the coronavirus into state prisons, according to state figures.
The state started accepting inmates again on June 1.
Because of the crowded conditions in prisons, they are considered prime sites for COVID-19 spread.
The Wisconsin prison population declined by just 66 inmates during the week ending June 5 and 106 during the week ending Friday, according to the Department of Corrections. The last time the prison population decline was anywhere near that small was during the week ending March 27, when it dropped by 109 people.
The overall prison population fell from 23,256 on March 6, the week before Gov. Tony Evers declared a coronavirus-related state of emergency, to 21,548 Friday, a decline of 7%.
David Liners, state director of WISDOM, a justice organization, said Evers is not doing enough to reduce the risk to incarcerated people.
"The governor once claimed he wanted to cut the prison population in half," Liners said. "At the moment when it is most urgent to use the powers unique to his office, he has failed by refusing to act."
WISDOM is organizing a "Drive to Decarcerate" caravan to Madison on Thursday. People interested in participating can learn more and sign up here.
Evers "has received warnings from the public health community," Liners said in a prepared statement. "He has gotten assurances that his power to commute sentences cannot be overturned by the legislature. He knows that there are many, many people in our prisons who are a very low risk to public safety, but who are at great risk of serious illness or death if they remain in overcrowded prisons. He knows that the virus has already begun to sweep through some of the prisons, among both incarcerated people and staff. Still, he has chosen to do nothing, and not to even address the issue."
Not included in those figures are the number of people incarcerated for reasons related to alleged violations of community supervision. There were 338 of those people locked up as of Friday. That is up 23 from the low of 315 in the weeks ending May 15 and May 22.
By Gretchen Schuldt
Lying to a judge about having ovarian cancer is enough to warrant losing a court battle over parental rights, a State Court of Appeals judge ruled this week.
"All the evidence demonstrates that S.S. conducted an intentional, continuous campaign to perpetrate a fraud upon the court, manipulate the parties in this case, lie to her legal counsel, and create fraudulent medical records.," District II Court of Appeals Judge Paul F. Reilly wrote.
The ruling upheld Waukesha County Circuit Judge Lloyd Carter's decision to enter a default judgment against S.S., as she was referred to in court records.
S.S.'s child, A.W. was removed from her mother in 2016, after S.S. overdosed in her daughter's presence. She overdosed again in January 2017, illegally obtained narcotics in the summer of 2017, and was incarcerated for about three months that winter due to a heroin relapse while she was on probation.
Waukesha County filed a termination of parental rights petition in April 2018, alleging that S.S. had failed to assume parental responsibility and that A.W. still was in need of protection. S.S. contested the petition.
In June 2019, S.S.'s lawyer filed a motion to adjourn a scheduled jury trial on the petition.
The petition said that S.S. was "'experiencing some extreme physical distress'” and explained that S.S. was suffering “''increased pain, bleeding to a point that required frequent changes of sanitary products to avoid bleeding through clothing, exhaustion and an inability to function which have led to missing multiple appointments to prepare for trial,'” Reilly wrote.
During a hearing on the matter, S.S. provided written documentation stating that she had ovarian cancer. The letter, purportedly from an emergency room nurse, said that S.S. was to be excused for four to six weeks due to the disease and related surgery. Carter granted the delay.
In July, the social worker assigned to the case filed a memo stating that S.S. refused to sign a release allowing her condition to be verified. S.S. said during a court hearing that she had privacy concerns and was protected by federal law.
Carter found the court had an interest in confirming the truthfulness of her representations and ordered her to sign the release.
Staff at Waukesha Memorial Hospital "denied writing the medical excuse that S.S. presented to the court, denied diagnosing S.S. with ovarian cancer, and indicated that they had no record of S.S. being diagnosed or treated for ovarian cancer at their clinic," Reilly wrote.
S.S.'s lawyer later expressed concern that her client was "making use of me to defraud the court," Reilly said.
S.S. never denied the allegations that she faked the medical records and lied about it.
The county Department of Health and Human Services sought a default judgment and a finding that there were grounds to terminate S.S.'s parental rights.
Carter granted the request. S.S.'s "conduct is the epitome of bad faith and egregious conduct…." he said. "What (S.S.) did here was a calculated, planned effort on her part to make a false representation to her attorney knowing that her attorney would communicate that information to the Court, then follow it through with further fabrication and falsification."
The court later found, at a separate hearing, that it was in A.W.'s best interests to terminate S.S.'s parental rights.
S.S. appealed, arguing that the law does not give the court the right to terminate her parental rights because Carter did not specifically find that she violated a court order.
"As the circuit court acknowledged, S.S. presented no evidence in the record to suggest that perhaps a misunderstanding occurred....." Reilly wrote. "The purpose of S.S.’s actions appears to be to manipulate the court’s calendar and avoid the jury trial on the grounds phase of the TPR proceeding."
The actions of S.S. were "egregious and constitute bad faith....Under the circumstances and given the court’s inherent authority to sanction parties for litigation misconduct, we see no error, he said.
WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted during the 2019-20 session.
2019 Act 111 makes possession of any unauthorized item - even if it is otherwise legal - by a person incarcerated in a jail or prison a felony punishable by up to 3 ½ years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The law was introduced as Senate Bill 70. Its companion bill was Assembly Bill 63.
The lead authors of SB 70 were State Senators Andre Jacque (R-DePere) and Howard L. Marklein (R-Spring Green). The lead sponsors of AB 63 were State Representatives Ron Tusler (R-Harrison) and James Edming (R-Glen Flora).
Gov. Tony Evers signed it into law on Feb. 28,2020.
No fiscal estimates were filed.
Jacque – Inmates sometimes attempt to conceal contraband in an attempt to sneak it into the facility while being booked into jail. Depending on the contraband it may or may not be a crime. Illegal drugs or an item snuck in and given to another person currently constitutes a crime, and the person can be charged. However, if the person tries to sneak something in that is not illegal to possess and keeps it for themselves at the time they are caught with it, it cannot be prosecuted beyond a rules violation, whether that item might be a phone that could facilitate other crimes, something that can be fashioned into a weapon or contain flammable liquid, or even a handcuff key, which is not illegal to possess and not a crime. These items are serious problems in a correctional setting. The idea for Senate Bill 70 came from corrections and law enforcement officers in Northeast Wisconsin, including those here to testify today.
Tusler – Unfortunately, §302.095 leaves the proverbial jailhouse door open to smuggle in items that are not already illegal to possess, for example a handcuff key, pen, or paperclip, for personal use; this loophole is being exploited and must be closed to ensure the safety of our law enforcement and corrections personnel and other inmates. While these legally-possessable items are usually found and confiscated during booking as contrary to jail or prison policy, there is no consequence for attempting to outsmart facility personnel.
Registering for the bill: AFSCME International Union, Badger State Sheriff’s Association, Washington County, Wisconsin Counties Association, Wisconsin County Police Association, Wisconsin Sheriff’s and Deputy Sheriffs Association
Registering against the bill: No one
Registering as “other”: No one
sBy Gretchen Schuldt
The Milwaukee Police Department's use-of-force policy does not prohibit the chokeholds or the kind of restraint that Minneapolis police used when they killed George Floyd, records show.
Milwaukee has adopted just three of eight restriction on use of force recommended by Campaign Zero, an effort to reduce killings by police, according to the campaign.
Fire and Police Commission Executive Director Griselda Aldrete, responding to recent protests in Milwaukee, told the Common Council's Public Safety and Health Committee last week that the commission will review the policy.
Milwaukee's use-of-force policy also keeps secret the some of the weapons that the Police Department can use against protesters and others. The policy does not disclose why the public should not know what can of weapons can be turned against it.
The policy says the secret weapons are not lethal, but that cannot be verified without knowing what they are. Tear gas and rubber bullets also have been described as nonlethal, but they can kill or maim.
Campaign Zero has identified eight restrictions associated with fewer killings by police. Of those, eight, Milwaukee has adopted three – establishing a continuum of force, requiring a warning before shooting, and imposing on officers a duty to intervene if they see an excessive use of force by a colleague.
The campaign also says the city does not require that all other alternatives be exhausted before officers are authorized to shoot, but the Fire and Police Commission last year approved language that says that use of force that may result in serious injury or death "may only be used as a last resort."
The other recommended restrictions the city has not adopted, according to the campaign, include:
While the city's policy does require reporting of many types of uses of force, it does not require reporting when an officer points a gun at someone without firing, according to the campaign.
The campaign reported in 2016 that each of the eight recommended killings were associated with fewer police-involved killings.
The policies linked to the largest drops in police-involved deaths were required comprehensive reporting (25% reduction), the requirment that officers to exhaust all other reasonable means before shooting (25% reduction), and that ban on chokeholds and strangleholds (22% reduction).
"While each individual policy predicted lower rates of police-involved killings, the fewest killings per population were observed among police departments that had several of these policies in place," the study said. "For example, departments with four or more of restrictive use of force policies in place had 37% fewer police-involved killings per population than those that had 0 or 1 of these policies in place."
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