Governor Evers signs Executive Order calling for special session on policing accountability | Wis.Community

Governor Evers signs Executive Order calling for special session on policing accountability

August 24, 2020 - 1:35pm
Governor Tony Evers
Governor Tony Evers

Gov. Evers and Lt. Gov. Barnes Address Wisconsinites Following Kenosha Shooting

Today Governor Evers and Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes released an executive order calling the Wisconsin State Legislature into a Special Session on policing accountability and transparency convening at noon on Aug. 31, 2020. The announcement comes after Jacob Blake, a Black man, was shot repeatedly in the back by a law enforcement officer in Kenosha.   Evers and Barnes addressed state citizens on this issue this afternoon in this video.

  

“Today I am calling for a Special Session of the Legislature to take up the package of legislation we announced earlier this year,” said Gov. Evers. “We must begin the long but important path toward ensuring our state and our country start to live up to our promises of equity and justice. I am urging the Legislature to rise to this occasion and give this special session the urgent and productive effort this moment demands and that the people of Wisconsin deserve.”

Evers had previously called for  the legislature to take action in the wake of other police shootings of Black citizens, particularly in a letter to the legislature in June. The legislature never took up this issue, and after last night's shooting in Kenosha the Governor is calling this Special Session.

In , the governor indicated the Legislature’s failure to take up these measures would prompt executive action, stating, “As we move forward, if there is an unwillingness to do this important work, conversations with legislative leaders break down, or there are talks of delays until the next legislative session, as governor, I am ready and willing to use my power to call on the Legislature into special session to act.”  

  

“We know we cannot remedy the systemic racism built into all of our systems with just this package of bills, but that does not mean we should stand still,” said Lt. Gov. Barnes. “For over two months, our legislative leaders have ignored the calls for change from people in every part of our state, and now another Black man is fighting for his life due to the actions of law enforcement. The people of our state are done waiting for the Legislature to act, and so are we.” 

The Governor expects the special session of the legislature to consider this package of bills:

    • Establishes statewide use of force standards for all law enforcement agencies that includes that the primary duty of law enforcement is to preserve the life of all individuals; that deadly force is to be used only as the last resort; that officers should use skills and tactics that minimize the likelihood that force will become necessary; that, if officers must use physical force, it should be the least amount of force necessary to safely address the threat; and that law enforcement officers must take reasonable action to stop or prevent any unreasonable use of force by their colleagues;
    • Prohibits discipline of a law enforcement officer for reporting a violation of a law enforcement agency's use of force policy; and
    • Requires the Law Enforcement Standards Board (LESB) to develop a model use of force policy for law enforcement agencies.
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    • ​Requires each law enforcement officer to annually complete at least eight hours of training on use of force options and de-escalation techniques.
    • Creates a $1,000,000 grant program, administered by the Department of Justice, to fund community organizations that are utilizing evidence-based outreach and violence interruption strategies to mediate conflicts, prevent retaliation and other potentially violent situations, and connect individuals to community supports.
    • Requires law enforcement agencies to develop policies prohibiting the use of chokeholds.
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    • Requires each law enforcement agency to not only prepare a policy regarding the use of force by its law enforcement officers, but to make it available publicly online.
    • Creates a civil cause of action for unnecessarily summoning a law enforcement officer with intent to infringe upon a right of the person under the Wisconsin Constitution or the U.S. Constitution; unlawfully discriminate against the person; cause the person to feel harassed, humiliated, or embarrassed; cause the person to be expelled from a place in which the person is lawfully located; damage the person's reputation or standing within the community; or damage the person's financial, economic, consumer, or business prospects or interests.
    • Requires that the Department of Justice publish an annual report on use of force incidents, including incidents where there was a shooting, where a firearm was discharged in the direction of a person (even if there was no injury), and where other serious bodily harm resulted from the incident; and
    • Requires certain demographic information to be collected about each incident and reported annually by DOJ on its website. 
    • Prohibits no-knock search warrants.
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    • Makes certain changes to the responsibilities of the LESB, including requiring LESB to also regulate jail and juvenile detention officer training standards and regulate recruitment standards for the recruiting of new law enforcement, jail, and juvenile detention officers;
    • Requires each law enforcement agency to maintain an employment file for each employee; and
    • Requires each potential candidate for a position in an agency, jail, or facility that is or has been employed by a different agency, jail, or facility to authorize their previous employer to disclose his or her employment files to the hiring entity.

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