Wisconsin lawmakers have proposed a bill aiming to prevent problematic police officers from job-hopping by expanding the scope of decertification.
The bill, introduced by Rep. Moore Omokunde, would create statutes to de-certify officers who have violated a use-of-force policy or who have left their job while under investigation for misconduct.
It also requires that an officer who is fired or resigns during an investigation for violating use-of-force standards be de-certified within 30 days so that if an officer tries to get a job in a different municipality, they will have to be reviewed and re-certified by the Police and Fire Commission or a citizen board.
“What it’s intended to do is to prevent the shuffling around of police officers to different jurisdictions when they violate use-of-force principles or they do something that is fireable or gets them under investigation as a police officer,” Moore Omokunde told Wisconsin Examiner.
Omokunde’s bill references examples of what he calls the “municipal shuffle,” where problematic officers are able to secure a job after committing an act of misconduct or while being investigated. One example is former Wauwatosa Officer Joseph Mensah who was involved in three fatal shootings within a five-year period.
While the third shooting was being investigated, Mensah resigned from the department and secured a job at the Waukesha Sheriff’s Department with a letter of recommendation from his former police chief.
Omokunde said, ““In St. Louis they call it the municipal shuffle, where you just go from one place to another place and they just get you a different job after you get fired or you quit.”
The freshman representative stated that the bill will also require de-certified officers to get a waiver from a civilian review board like the Fire and Police Commission if they want to be re-certified.
“It also says that what you did is not acceptable, and we will de-certify you as a police officer because it violates public trust, and it violates some of the core things that we have with community and police relations. And so, if you want to come back and police you go to go to the community to get permission. We have to empower citizens to have that choice. And we have to put them into the decision-making process.”
Omokunde is currently pushing back against a bill that would allow police officers to sit on the board.
“It’s a citizen review board,” he said, “it’s the same reason that they don’t let attorneys sit on juries — because it’s supposed to be a lay person’s perspective and you get a lay vantage point. Once you have a police officer on that Fire and Police Commission, or a firefighter, then it’s no longer a lay person’s perspective.”
The bill is yet to have a committee hearing in the House.