In a video posted Tuesday, Governor Tony Evers asked the state legislature to immediately pass a bill that could change how much force a police officer could use. That limit? The least amount necessary.
Assembly Bill 1012 was introduced in the state assembly by Representative Chris Taylor of Madison and State Senator LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee in March. Under the bill, all police departments must include specific language in their policies on police use of force. That includes language that requires deadly force to be used only as a last resort, and if officers must use physical force, it should be the least amount necessary to safely address the threat. The bill also includes protections for officers who stop, prevent, or report unreasonable uses of force by their colleagues.
Representative David Bowen of Milwaukee also introduced the bill with Taylor. He this bill could save lives. “Sometimes it is characterized as us being hard on folks in law enforcement. It’s not that case at all,” Bowen explains. “It’s to ensured that our law enforcement agencies across the State of Wisconsin are living up to and working with the gold standard in service especially for vulnerable populations, especially for communities of color, and the black community particularly.”
Bowen says the bill will also result in the creation of a “model policy” for police departments to refer to. He says the model policy must address limiting the use of forces with individuals with mental health disorders, drug and alcohol abuse issues, dementia, and developmental disabilities. Bowen says that the assembly is not in session, so it would be remarkable if they were called into a special session for the bill.
The bill has been slammed by State Senator Van Wanggaard of Racine, who characterized the bill as “micromanaging the use of force continuum” and “written by the most liberal Democrats in the Capitol.”
State Representative Chris Taylor and State Senator LaTonya Johnson responded to Wanggaard in a press release found here.
The assembly bill and an identical bill in the state senate did not receive a public hearing last session.