Gov. Evers urges lawmakers to pass police use of force reform

Published: Jun. 2, 2020 at 1:22 PM CDT
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After days of violent demonstrations wrought havoc on Wisconsin's two largest cities, Gov. Tony Evers is calling on state lawmakers to pass legislation that would reform use of force policies across the state.

For the past week, protesters have flooded the streets around the state and across the country in response to the death of George Floyd, who died while in police custody in Minneapolis. In

a video released Tuesday, Evers said, "there is no empathy or humanity in George Floyd's death, but there must be empathy and humanity in our response to it." To stem what Evers described as "unacceptable use of force by certain law enforcement officers in our country and in our state," the governor urged the Assembly to pass Assembly bill 1012. The proposal is designed to impose guidelines on local law enforcement agencies use of force policies. Evers conceded that the bill, while important, isn't a silver bullet that would solve racism, saying more systemic changes are required in Wisconsin and in the U.S. as a whole. "We must confront society’s comfort with racism. We must be willing to face it, with clear eyes and open hearts, recognizing that folks who look like me have been part of creating, exacerbating, and benefiting from the systems that we must now turn to dismantle," he added. According to the analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau, the bill would require each law enforcement agency include the following elements in its policy on use of force:
  • That the primary duty of all 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.