CAR CARAVAN TO MILWAUKEE
This Thursday, March 18 at 10 AM, the Wisconsin Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee will hold a hearing on a regressive bill the GOP introduced (SB117/AB114), specifically targeting Madison (and Milwaukee) and designed to gut the civilian oversight mechanism we set up for police in Madison.
WE ARE HEADING OUT AT 8AM TO LET OUR VOICES BE HERD. WE WILL SEE YOU AT THE ADDRESS ABOVE WHICH IS WHERE THE HEARING WILL TAKE PLACE
People should e-mail in opposition to the bill and/or attend the public hearing, to speak against the bill. I would suggest crafting polite e-mails that try to appeal to conservatives, insofar as possible (on grounds such as good government policy, local control, etc.). You can send your e-mail to the Committee clerk (GOP State Sen. Van Wanggaard’s staffer): Eric.Barbour@legis.wisconsin.gov
Address your letter to the Wisconsin Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee.
The bill specifically targets Madison and Milwaukee. In Madison, the main purpose appears to be to usurp/block the civilian oversight mechanism that was just created, recreating everything to be pro-police. It would create an Independent Monitor position, to be selected by the Mayor from a choice of three people nominated by the PFC (rather than having the Independent Monitor chosen by and reporting to the Civilian Oversight Board).
The composition of the Madison PFC would be changed to give the police union much more clout – requiring at least one PFC member selected from a list provided by the Madison police union and one from a list provided by the Madison firefighter’s union (and if the Mayor fails to fill one of those two vacancies within 120 days, the relevant union gets to appoint the PFC member without requirement for Council confirmation).Whenever the PFC chooses a new Chief, it would be required to meet in closed session with representatives of the police union (to give the police union even more clout).
Basically, the PFC is already subject to a large degree of regulatory capture (i.e., where it is more responsive to the special interests of police than to the general public interest) and the bill would make this exponentially worse. Moreover, under current ordinance, the Civilian Oversight Board reviews the Chief annually, and it appears that instead, the bill assigns performance review of the Chief to the PFC, and it would only occur if requested by a 2/3 vote of the Council. In addition, if a PFC makes a disciplinary decision, the bill requires that a judge reviewing that decision can’t consider any finding of fact or conclusions of law made by the PFC (and under the bill, the judge would be required to reverse the PFC’s decision under a pretty wide set of circumstances). Also, in Milwaukee, it requires that that for any disciplinary trial of a cop, at least one member of the panel doing the trial must be a former or current cop.
Here’s more info about the bill: https://legiscan.com/WI/bill/SB117/2021
Here is the full text of the bill: https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/…/proposals/sb117.pdf
The Wisconsin Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee hearing on the bill will be held on Thursday March 18 at 10:00 AM in Fireside Lounge at the UW-Milwaukee Student Union.
This bill was written by GOP State Senator Van Wanggaard (a former police officer). It has eleven GOP sponsors listed and one Democratic sponsor, Sen Lena Taylor. I hear that Lena Taylor tends to vote with the GOP on policing issues. Any further Democratic defections need to be avoided. If the bill passes, it’s crucial that Gov Evers veto it (and Democratic defections make that more difficult).
From the Wisconsin Ethics website: The City of Milwaukee has registered against this bill and the Wisconsin Chief’s and Wisconsin Professional Police Association have registered in favor.
Action should be taken by the City of Madison to register against it. It seems this bill was probably largely written by the Wisconsin Professional Police Associatio.