By Senator, Lena C. Taylor
Public safety affects everyone. Therefore, it should be treated seriously. By everyone. This means that residents, government officials, and law enforcement all have a hand to play in keeping our streets safe.
Improving police community relations has always been on my radar, but after what I saw in Sherman Park this summer, I’ve made it one of my top priorities. This session, I plan to roll out a package of bills that will address these issues to ensure that our communities are kept safe:
Improved law enforcement training
Law enforcement must be trained on trauma informed care and cultural competency. They need to understand the perspective of the people in the communities they serve. This means knowing how to safely interact with someone suffering from mental illness, and practicing de-escalation techniques. Effective and specialized training for law enforcement has the ability to bridge the gap between communities and police officers.
Police should be a member of the community they serve. In the past, residency requirements have built trust and led to safer communities, but in 2015, the state took power away from local cities and towns to decide their own residency requirements. This bill would restore local governments’ ability to make this decision for the good of their community.
Community Oriented Policing houses put law enforcement officers directly into the heart of the communities they serve. Officers are able to solve more problems and create a presence of safety when needed. This model of policing has been shown to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods and reduce crime. Community policing makes law enforcement officers more approachable and builds trust within communities, effectively making streets safer for everyone.
Expand Shot Spotter in Milwaukee
We must be proactive and do everything we can to keep bystanders safe and prevent harm before it happens. Shot Spotter is a service that confirms gunfire and then provides crucial information about exact locations of fired gunshots. Expanding this service would keep our communities safe and informed about life-threatening incidents.
High Point Model
The High Point community has seen major improvements since the start of its new crime-reduction strategy. High Point uses community organization and partners with law enforcement to reduce crime and create a safer community. By making public safety a priority, they were able to pinpoint effective ways for stopping crime and encourage community members to become more involved in actively making their community safer. Racial profiling data collection Racial profiling has no place in our community. It creates fear and tension and is just downright inhumane. In order to hold officers accountable and ensure that traffic stops are warranted, detailed information should be collected to compare the number of traffic stops involving racial minorities and those against non-minorities. This bill would ensure such accountability.
Officer-involved shooting 2.0
In 2013 I authored and passed Act 348, the first law in the nation to require investigations of officer-involved deaths to be conducted by an independent law enforcement agency. We need to take this law one step further. This bill would continue to ensure that those investigating an officer are in no way related to or involved with said officer. In 2016 alone, 963 individuals were shot and killed by police. In Wisconsin there were 17. We should aim for 0. I’m hopeful that if we change the way we police our communities, we’ll get there.
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