Wisconsin Professional Police Association weighs in on recent events and police reform

Day 2 of protests in Madison against the killing of George Floyd (Source: WMTV)
Day 2 of protests in Madison against the killing of George Floyd (Source: WMTV)(NBC15)
Published: Jun. 9, 2020 at 6:28 PM CDT
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The Wisconsin Professional Police Association is weighing in on calls for police reform in response to George Floyd's death.

WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer says George Floyd's death is tragic and he called the actions of the Minneapolis officers involved "revolting". “It was revolting not only from a professional stand-point but it doesn’t reflect the values and doesn’t respect the law enforcement community here and their values,” he said.

Palmer says often in law enforcement, wrongdoing by one officer can turn people against officers elsewhere. He says that's what we've seen in Wisconsin during the last week of protests. “Right now there are a lot of groups talking at one another, rather than with one another.” Palmer says there is a need for change.

As for one of the demands from protesters, Palmer says defunding the police appears to mean different things to different groups and individuals but that it would do more harm than good. “If we’re talking about significant reductions in police spending, we think that is very problematic.” Palmer says the organization has conducted statewide polls over the last eight years that have consistently asked people how they feel about police funding. “More than 80 percent of the respondents have indicated they agree having a well-funded police dept. contributes to the quality of life,” he said. He also says defunding the police or implementing reductions in police spending would compromise programs like community-oriented policing and other programs that our communities of color value the most.

Palmer says positive change will only happen when everyone works together. “What we all seem to agree on is that systemic problems and racial bias…we need to have a broad-based discussion that includes law enforcement and includes communities of color that is really focused on identifying a systemic set of solutions and we’re really not doing that yet,” said Palmer.

He also weighed in the debate over school resource officers. Palmer say SROs have special training to work in a school environment which can be valuable. He also agrees that schools need more social workers and health professionals.