Wisconsin Assembly passes three police reform bills and expungement reform

Reforms recommended by Badger Institute will increase transparency, work opportunities

June 17, 2021 — The Wisconsin State Assembly yesterday passed three important police reform bills supported by Badger Institute research. These measures would increase accountability and trust between police departments and the communities they serve by requiring better collection and reporting on use-of-force incidents, publication of use-of-force policies and the sharing of employment files when an officer applies to a new department.

These bipartisan measures already passed the State Senate and are headed to Gov. Tony Evers’s desk.

The Assembly yesterday also passed a bipartisan bill to reform Wisconsin’s expungement law that would allow more Wisconsinites to secure employment, housing and education. The legislation awaits consideration in the Senate.

Our research shows that police use force infrequently in Wisconsin’s largest cities, but uniform definitions, data and reporting would enhance public understanding of these practices and highlight areas of concern,” said Policy Analyst Julie Grace. “Police play a critical role in maintaining safe communities. These evenhanded reforms will allow them to do their jobs while increasing public confidence in their practices.”

The Badger Institute last summer examined the number of police use-of-force incidents in Milwaukee, Madison and Green Bay. Only one in every 29 or 30 arrests in Madison or Milwaukee involved any sort of use of force. In Madison, about 95% of police interactions with citizens did not even result in an arrest.

The Badger Institute also recommended creating a statewide use of force standard and extending Act 10 to police to restore disciplinary responsibility to department leaders and elected officials and to expedite removal of officers who act inappropriately.

“We encourage Gov. Evers to sign these reasonable police reform measures,” said Grace. “At the same time, we encourage the Senate to pass the bipartisan expungement bill. The Assembly’s unanimous support for this measure, along with statewide polling, demonstrates the widespread support that exists for this reform.”

Grace’s testimony in favor of Assembly Bills 109 and 110 can be found here, Her testimony in favor of their Senate counterparts SB 122 and 123 are available here.