Pushback on Wanggaard and police use of force

    Protesters used cars to block the entrances of the intersection. (Henry Redman | Wisconsin Examiner)

    Gov. Tony Evers called on the Wisconsin Legislature to pass a bill that sets standards for police use of force on Tuesday. 

    Sen. LaTonya Johnson

    It’s a bill that was written based on the guiding principles on the use of force from the Police Executive Research Forum and President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, sponsored by Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison). The authors say the bill also reflects Wisconsin law enforcement training standards.

    So the pair were not pleased when Evers’ endorsement and push for the Legislature to pass their bill was met with a scathing response from Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) later that day, accusing them of micromanaging and misunderstanding police. He dubbed the measure, “clearly written by liberal activists who have never served with law enforcement, and apparently never even talked or listened to them.”

    Wednesday, Johnson and Taylor responded to Wanggaard, accusing him of making false statements about their bill, which they have attempted to move forward for several sessions.

    “Rather than consider the substance of the bill, Senator Wanggaard resorts to clichés and out of touch inaccuracies,” said their statement. “He has failed to put forward any proposals that address reforming use of force standards and has rebuffed Rep. Taylor’s overtures to even meet to discuss the issue.”

    Rep. Chris Taylor

    The pair also note that they have spent years studying the issue, doing research and examining policies around the country with a focus on police departments that have seen success at reducing use of force incidents.

    Van Wanggaard official portrait
    Sen. Van Wanggaard

    “The brutal murder of George Floyd is the latest shocking example of centuries of pernicious, persistent racial discrimination,” Taylor stated. “The time for reform is now. AB 1012 is not a cure-all, but a concrete step forward.”

    Johnson said, “The pain being felt across the nation and in Wisconsin is a real and raw response to seeing yet another Black life being taken. … We are tired and we are crying out for change, and that means changing the policies that allow for these injustices to occur. …. Republicans must rise to the challenge of this moment, or step aside so we can bring about the change that is desperately needed.”

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    Melanie Conklin
    Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.