Body cams, chokeholds: Public surveyed in Wisconsin

As more departments adopt body camera use and the policing and policy debates continue at the state and local level, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA) released the results from its annual public survey.

The survey found a majority of Wisconsin residents want officers to wear body cameras. The union and others see the results as a good starting point.

"This poll is one way that it allows us to take a more proactive approach to doing that," said Jim Palmer, WPPA executive director.

The poll, conducted by St. Norbert College, surveyed more than 1,000 Wisconsin adults.

  • 66% say keeping the community safe from crime is a high priority across all demographics
  • 59% support local tax increases to pay for specially-trained mental health officers and body cameras

"We think that’s really fascinating and really distinct, and really a good gauge of how strong support is for body-worn cameras and mental health officers and things of that nature," Palmer said.

  • 49% say chokehold should be permitted in life-threatening situations

Just last week, the Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission banned chokeholds without exceptions.

Additionally, the survey found 85% of respondents said it is an immediate or somewhat of a priority to require law enforcement officers to wear body cameras.

Milwaukee-based "Black Leaders Organizing for Communities," said it has heard stark contrasts in the community on the same issues polled, saying in a statement: "This report seemed more of a PR ploy to try and boost public opinion of police officers instead of finding real solutions to safety issues."

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"Ultimately, people just want to be safe in their communities," said Attorney Kimberley Motley.

Motley, who represents several families involved in police-involved deaths, said inroads need to be made in the community.

"I think particularly in the city of Milwaukee, there's a real problem and a real disconnect with regards to the relationship of police in Milwaukee, and frankly with the Black community," Motley said.

Motley added that the survey provides insight as work to change policing continues.