State’s New Officer-Involved Shooting Law May Serve as National Standard
January 30, 2015
(Madison, WI) – A national task force established by President Obama to explore ways to strengthen the public’s trust in law enforcement has turned to Wisconsin’s largest law enforcement group for its insights. The only state organization to have been invited to provide testimony thus far to The President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA) used its opportunity to highlight a new state law mandating independent investigations of officer-involved deaths, and the group’s critical role in making that law possible.
“We are honored to have been asked to contribute to this critically important public dialogue on ways to foster strong relationships between law enforcement and the communities they protect,” said WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer. “Officers in Wisconsin are subject to numerous layers of independent review and civilian oversight, and our system could serve as a national model for the Task Force to consider.”
Established last December by an Executive Order in the wake of recent events in Ferguson, Staten Island, Cleveland, and elsewhere around the country, Task Force was created to conduct a public discussion on the integrity of our criminal justice system, and the safe and effective delivery of policing services.
In addition to touting Wisconsin’s system of police review, the WPPA testimony submitted to the Task Force this week included a number of recommendations, including that the federal government require state and local law enforcement agencies to report the number of officer-involved shootings that occur in their jurisdictions each year. Doing so, wrote Palmer, “would help educate the public and the media on law enforcement use of force issues.”
“Taking steps to improve the public credibility of law enforcement is vital, and it can serve to protect and benefit our citizens, as well as the dedicated men and women who risk their personal safety to protect them,” said Palmer. “Wisconsin has always enjoyed a strong system of police oversight, and we’ve continued to enhance those levels of review. Given our leadership role in making those improvements here in Wisconsin possible, we believe that we have a lot to offer to this discussion, and we are grateful that our efforts have been recognized.”
President Obama has ordered the Task Force to prepare a report and set of recommendations. An initial report will be due to the President in March.
With nearly 10,000 members from almost 300 local association affiliates, the WPPA is Wisconsin’s largest law enforcement group.
To read the WPPA’s testimony, click here: 21st Century Policing Testimony.