These bipartisan, even-handed measures will provide better data, accountability
June 23, 2021 — The Badger Institute commends Gov. Tony Evers for signing into law yesterday two bipartisan police reform bills in line with its research and recommendations. Wisconsin Acts 49 and 50, which would require public reporting of police use-of-force policies and the publishing of annual reports and data on use-of-force-incidents, are significant steps toward greater transparency and a better understanding of the frequency and circumstances surrounding these encounters.
“The Legislature and Gov. Evers worked in a bipartisan fashion to pass two laws that will keep Wisconsinites better informed about police use of force,” said Badger Institute Policy Analyst Julie Grace. “This information will increase accountability and strengthen community confidence in police practices.”
The legislation was a product of months-long bipartisan efforts, including input and recommendations from the Assembly Speaker’s Task Force on Racial Disparities’ Subcommittee on Law Enforcement Policies and Standards.
In August 2020, the Badger Institute published research that showed police use-of-force incidents were relatively rare in the state’s three biggest cities, but also found that the definitions and tracking methods were widely varied and difficult to access. The Institute recommended “a transparent discipline process and regular reporting of such incidents,” including a common standard of acceptable use and annual, standardized reports from government agencies.
“We encourage Gov. Evers to sign SB 165, which would require the disclosure of employment files when police officers move from one department to another,” said Grace. “We also urge the Legislature to pass SB 120, which would establish a statewide standard for use of force.”