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UPDATE: Walker signs officer involved shooting bill into law

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UPDATED Wednesday, April 23, 2014 --- 4:23 p.m.

Reports will now be public, and families will know their legal rights if their loved ones are killed in an officer involved shooting.

Today Governor Scott Walker signed that measure into law. The law also requires an outside agency to investigate the death, so that no police department is ever investigating one of their own.

Families gathered today at the Capitol for the bill signing.
Paul Heenan's parents were among the many. Heenan was killed here in Madison back in November of 2012 when he drunkenly entered the wrong home, and got into an altercation with officers.
His parents say this will be a huge protection for civilians throughout the state, even if it wont bring their son back.

"It's bittersweet for us, certainly it's going to help other families in Wisconsin in the future, and we're glad it got passed."

The bill will not work retroactively for Paul Heenan's case, only for future officer involved shootings. Representative Chris Taylor says Wisconsin is now the first state in the country to have this type of law on the books.
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UPDATED Tuesday, April 22, 2014 --- 7:47 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- An aide to a Wisconsin lawmaker says Gov. Scott Walker intends to sign a bill that would put outside agencies in charge of investigating officer-involved deaths.

Craig Trost, an aide to Rep. Chris Taylor, says in an email that Walker's office notified Taylor's office that he plans to sign the bill Wednesday.

Taylor, a Madison Democrat, and Rep. Garey Bies, R-Sister Bay, developed the legislation in response to three high-profile deaths in the last 10 years. None of those incidents resulted in criminal charges.

Supporters say the new requirements will counter claims that police protect their own from consequences of using deadly force. But police observers say the bill could create conflict and confusion for Wisconsin agencies that have traditionally done the investigations themselves.

The bill passed the Legislature earlier this year.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, April 1, 2014 --- 8:03 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Senate has passed a bill that would require Wisconsin police departments to use outside investigators to probe officer-involved deaths.

The Assembly passed the bill in February. The Senate approved it on a voice vote Tuesday, the last day of the two-year legislative session. The measure now heads to Gov. Scott Walker.

The bill comes in the wake of several high-profile officer involved deaths across the state in recent years. Supporters say it will alleviate concerns about investigators from the same department covering up their friends' misconduct.

Smaller departments routinely rely on outside agencies to investigate officer-involved deaths. But the state's two biggest departments, Madison and Milwaukee, investigate their own officers.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, April 1, 2014 --- 11:55 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Senate is set to vote on a bill that would require Wisconsin police departments to use outside investigators to probe officer-involved deaths.

The Assembly passed the bill in February. The Senate is set to take it up Tuesday, the last day of the two-year legislative session. Approval would send the measure on to Gov. Scott Walker.

The measure comes in the wake of several high-profile officer involved deaths across the state in recent years. Supporters say the bill will alleviate concerns about investigators from the same department covering up their friends' misconduct.

Smaller departments routinely rely on outside agencies to investigate officer-involved deaths. But the state's two biggest departments, Madison and Milwaukee, investigate their own officers.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Tuesday, February 18, 2014 --- 7:31 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a bill that would require almost all Wisconsin police departments to use outside agencies to investigate officer-involved deaths.

Right now larger departments such as Madison and Milwaukee investigate their own officers. Many smaller agencies use outside investigators. Republican Rep. Garey Bies introduced the bill to create more confidence that officers aren't investigating their buddies.

The measure requires almost all agencies to use at least two outside investigators to prove officer-involved deaths and submit a report to prosecutors. The State Patrol could use its own crash reconstruction units to investigate fatal accidents involving its troopers, however.

The Assembly passed the measure on a voice vote Tuesday. It now goes to the state Senate.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday. January 23, 2014 --- 1:34 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A legislative committee has approved a scaled-down bill establishing new protocols for investigating deaths involving police officers.

Rep. Garey Bies initially proposed a bill that would have required departments to involve outside investigators and created a state review board.

The law enforcement community pushed back, saying most agencies already use outside investigators and the board could conflict with district attorneys.

Bies submitted a new bill to the Assembly criminal justice committee on Thursday. The measure requires outside agencies to investigate officer-involved deaths except in Milwaukee.

The committee approved the bill 8-2. Rep. Evan Goyke says he later changed his "yes" vote to "no" after learning the bill doesn't guarantee victims' families access to investigative reports, but the committee clerk he can't switch his vote. Goyke didn't immediately return a message.

Copyright 2014: Associated Press

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UPDATED Thursday, December 12, 2013 --- 1:05 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The leader of the state Assembly's criminal justice committee says a bill that would create a state board to review officer-involved deaths is a tough sell.

The bipartisan bill would require police agencies to use outside investigators and create a state Justice Department board that would review the probe and making charging recommendations to prosecutors.

The criminal justice committee held a public hearing on the measure Thursday. The panel's chairman, Rep. Joel Kleefisch, told the bill's chief author, Rep. Gary Bies, that bill will have a tough time getting through because it suggest lawmakers don't trust the police.

Bies, a former Door County sheriff's deputy, responded that many agencies already use outside agencies as a matter of policy and the bill isn't as critical of police as Kleefisch might think.

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UPDATED Thursday, December 12, 2013 --- 5:31 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A legislative committee is expected to take public comments on a bill that would revamp police protocols for handling officer-involved deaths.

The bipartisan bill would require a team of three investigators, including two from an agency that wasn't involved in the death, to prepare a report on the incident. A new state Justice Department board would review the report and submit recommendations to prosecutors and forward the report on to anyone responsible for disciplining an officer involved in the death.

The Assembly's criminal justice committee is set to hold a public hearing on the measure Thursday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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UPDATED Friday, November 7, 2013 --- 6:35 p.m.

Should a police department investigate itself?That's the question one group is trying to answer. They were at the capital Friday pushing for change.

John Heenan's son Paul died in Madison last year. He says it should have never happened.

Even though it was ruled as justified and no charges were filled, this group of parents say the investigations weren't thorough, and the officers are still to blame. Mike Bell lost his son and says it's unacceptable.

"If you were a football player and the team owner was your referee and you won every game for 100 years don't you think there's a problem with the rules?"

Trying to spark that change is a bi partisan bill in the assembly. If passed it would require police departments to create an independent review board to investigate all officer involved deaths.

Representative Chris Taylor is hoping the bill will get a hearing soon.

"All it does is create a process that the public can believe in."

The Bell family lost their son 9 years ago and Friday put out an add in USA Today, in part to get support for the bill.

The group went around the capitol and distributed papers to legislators.

John Heenan says he hopes the bill will make the process more transparent.

"Both of us have lost our sons and we don't want other fathers to lose their sons in a police shooting and have it not investigated by someone independent."

The Madison Police Department put out a statement saying it has new procedures in place in the event of future officer involved shootings, and hopes to be a leading agency in addressing these concerns.

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UPDATED Thursday, September 5, 2013 --- 2:01 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Republican Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is coming out against a bipartisan proposal to change the way law enforcement agencies investigate fatal shootings and other officer-involved deaths.

Van Hollen issued a statement Thursday calling the bill "unnecessary, unworkable and an expansion of government's already too burdensome bureaucracy."

He says there has been no showing of failure by the law enforcement officers and district attorneys who investigate officer-involved deaths.

The bill introduced on Thursday would require police departments to include at least two people from outside agencies on the team that investigates whether a law was violated.

It comes on the heels of public concern after police in Kenosha and Madison fatally shot two young men and another man died in the custody of Milwaukee police.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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Posted Monday, August 26, 2013 --- 9:35 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A new bill would change the way Madison police and other law enforcement agencies investigate fatal shootings and other deaths involving their officers.

A Wisconsin State Journal report says the measure would require police departments to include at least two people from outside agencies on the team that investigates whether a law was violated.

Republican state Rep. Garey Bies says he's close to introducing the bill. He says there have been public concerns after police in Kenosha and Madison fatally shot two young men, and another man died in the custody of Milwaukee police.

Democratic Rep. Chris Taylor says she's also working on a measure that would require a more independent review of whether an officer-involved shooting violated department policies or procedures.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


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