Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers used an executive order to get Wisconsin State Patrol and other state law enforcement agencies to update their use-of-force policies, which included bans on chokeholds unless they were used a last resort in a life-threatening situation.
The order comes after a bipartisan racial justice task force, including Democrats, representatives from law enforcement, community groups, and activists, issued 18 recommendations to address statewide policing practices.
According to the AP, the task force was created after a white Kenosha police officer shot a Black man last summer. While the task force did not call for a total ban on chokeholds and no-knock warrants, it did however recommend a state-wide definition of excessive force, more transparency in reporting use-of-force incidents, and mandated psychological evaluation of law enforcement officers as a condition of employment. It also required the collecting of data on no-knock warrants, as well as more intensive crisis management training.
The recommendations were then headed to the legislature to be voted on and potentially enacted into law.
However, Evers worked to quickly bypass the legislature with his executive order; he ordered Wisconsin State Patrol, Wisconsin State Capitol Police and the Department of Resources Division of Public Safety and Resource Protection to “review and update” their use-of-force policies to prohibit the use of chokeholds unless as a last resort.
The Democratic governor also ordered the implementation of de-escalation tactics and the intervention of police officers to prevent or stop excessive force by a fellow officer. The executive order also mandates that officers report all uses of force, and protects officers who witness and intervene in excessive force from discipline.
“We’re getting to work here on the state level to make sure we’re leading by example and setting the bar in Wisconsin. Wisconsinites across our state are demanding action and meaningful, systemic change — this is a critically important step, but it can’t be the last,” Evers said in a statement.
Apparently, Evers tried to work with the Republican legislature to approve 9 bills last year but they were ignored.
In the coming weeks, the task force’s recommendations are expected to be written into bills and introduced into the legislature.
Republican Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, co-chair of the task force, said in an interview that he hoped to move “as quick as practicable” on drafting the bills that must also pass the GOP-controlled Senate to become law.