Evers and Barnes make Juneteenth announcement of police reform package.

  • Post Author
    by News director
  • Post Date
    Sun Jun 21 2020
The nine bills aim to reduce police violence while increasing accountability and transparency. Photos: SEIU Local 1; Tony Evers Campaign, licensed under creative commons. Graphic: Sam Buisman.

Author: Sam Buisman

Governor Tony Evers and Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes introduce a nine-bill package of police reform legislation on Juneteenth.

On Friday, the Governor and Lt. Governor unveiled nine bills aiming to reduce police violence and increase police accountability in Wisconsin. Their announcement was timed to coincide with Juneteenth, a holiday celebrating the emancipation of the last slaves in the Confederacy.

Remarking on the package in a press release, Governor Evers said that while this legislation would have a meaningful impact on the state, it is only a small step towards defeating its scourge of racism.

“Racism and racial disparities can't be solved with any single bill or package of bills, or person—it's on all of us, together,” wrote Evers. “We must meet this movement with our empathy and our compassion, but most of all we must meet it with action.”

The bills propose many changes to Wisconsin policing that align with the demands of protestors enraged by the police killing of George Floyd. One of the bills would require Wisconsin police agencies to ban chokeholds, while another would require officers to undergo eight hours of de-escalation training.

Additionally, one of the bills would ban no-knock warrants, akin to many protestors' demand to pass Breonna's Law, named for a Louisville black woman who police officers killed in her bed while serving a no-knock warrant on her apartment.

Other bills in this suite would increase police transparency, including one that would require the Wisconsin Department of Justice to issue an annual report on police use of force in Wisconsin and another that would force police departments to both prepare and publish their use of force policies.

However, this package may not placate hardline protestors who have called for police defunding rather than reform.

While these bills will have to survive Wisconsin's Republican-controlled legislature, the fact that Evers and Barnes introduced them as individual bills rather than one omnibus piece of legislation may increase the chances of some of them passing into law.

WSUM will continue to follow this story and issue updates as they emerge.