State's largest police group supports police oversight bill

MADISON (WITI) -- As the Wisconsin State Senate considers whether to pass legislation to mandate that outside investigators review law enforcement officer-involved deaths, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA), which supports the measure, has released the results of a recent statewide survey that shows that a large majority of state residents do as well.

“Law enforcement officers recognize that maintaining the public’s trust is key to keeping our communities safe,” said Jim Palmer, the WPPA’s executive director. “This is a common sense measure that will serve to reassure the public that these unfortunate situations, when they occur, are appropriately and independently reviewed.”

A bipartisan bill by State Representatives Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay) and Chris Taylor (D-Madison), Assembly Bill 409 would require that any investigation of an officer-involved death utilize officers from separate agencies.

The bill was approved by the state Assembly last month, and could be approved by the Senate in the waning days of the 2013-2014 legislative session.

In February, the WPPA commissioned through the St. Norbert College Strategic Research Institute a statewide survey of 400 people representing a scientific random sample of individuals matching Wisconsin’s demographic makeup.

The survey revealed that an overwhelming 83% of the respondents had “more confidence” in the investigation of an officer’s use of deadly force if it’s conducted by an outside law enforcement agency.

Only 10% thought that keeping the review within the department was a good idea.

When asked separately if they would favor or oppose a state law requiring that an outside law enforcement agency review cases in which deadly force is used, 81% of the respondents indicated that they would support it. 

“While this proposal represents what is already the most prevalent practice among law enforcement agencies throughout the state, there is real value to having this standard of review enforced on a uniform basis.” Palmer said. “We applaud legislators for listening to the many voices in this debate and for developing a policy that will benefit our communities and foster trust in the dedicated men and women who police our streets.”

Representing nearly 10,000 members from almost 300 affiliates, the WPPA is Wisconsin’s largest law enforcement group.

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