Assembly lawmakers pass police oversight bill

MADISON (WITI) -- The State Assembly on Tuesday, February 18th passed a bill designed to provide better investigations of police-involved deaths. Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn says his department doesn't really have a position on the bill -- because they don't need to.

Tuesday afternoon at Marquette Law School, Flynn discussed a number of crime-related issues. Afterward, he says the police oversight bill would change little in Wisconsin's largest city.

"In-custody deaths receive a remarkable amount of scrutiny here from a variety of different jurisdictions and levels of government. For Milwaukee, this would add another level of review, which I don't find concerning," said Flynn.

Assembly Bill 409 would mandate that following a police-involved death, at least two investigators from an outside agency would review the incident.

"It's a major step forward, I believe it's a major step forward. Some counties, some departments are doing beyond that but there's no minimum standard and this sets a minimum standard," said Michael Bell.

Bell is one of the bill's biggest champions. He received a nearly $2 million settlement after Kenosha police killed his son in 2004. Bell says the bill would also provide more resources to relatives of the deceased.

"If the district attorney determines there was no criminal prosecution required, that report is fully released to the family," said Bell.

The bill had been amended to exclude Milwaukee -- but has since been changed to include the MPD.

Mike Crivello, President of the Milwaukee Police Association, declined to comment Tuesday. The city doesn't have an official position. But Chief Flynn says if the bill passes, that's fine.

It's important to note the bill does not apply to deaths that occur in jails and prisons.

The Wisconsin Professional Police Association, the state's largest police union, registered with the GAB being in support of the bill. The Badger State Sheriff's Association has done the same.

The bill now heads to the Senate.