A state lawmaker representing the downtown and campus area is seeking support from county officials on a bill aimed at reducing deadly force by Wisconsin police officers.
The legislation would require teaching “de-escalation” tactics at police departments, through officer training mandates focused on defusing encounters on the street and reserving lethal force as a last-resort measure.
State Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, told a Dane County Board subcommittee Tuesday that the “bare minimum” is being done in Madison, noting there is a rising rate of police lethality in the city. She said she authored the bill after three officer-involved shootings took place in her district since 2013.
Taylor said the efforts would protect both citizens and police, as the less force officials use during encounters, the less likely they are to be injured.
Dane County Supervisor Michael Willett, District 32, expressed concern about funding of the bill and what message it would send to officers.
“It seems to me that you’re telling the officers that they’re not doing their job right,” Willett said. “We don’t need to tell them how to walk. These are all things that I believe they do everyday. To me this says, ‘[local police] aren’t doing this, so we as a state we are going to tell [them] to.’”
The legislation is not meant to be divisive, Taylor said, but rather to establish best practices through increasing officer transparency and accountability.
Taylor also noted the legislation would save law enforcement—especially in the case of Madison Police Department—money in the long run by reducing liability.
“I have seen a lot of division in our community between civilians and law enforcement,” Taylor said. “But these are standards that protect everybody.”