The Brillion News
MADISON — Governor Tony Evers and Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes on Monday announced Executive Order #84, calling the Wisconsin State Legislature into a Special Session on policing accountability and transparency convening at noon on Aug. 31, 2020.
The order was signed by Evers. Barnes has no power to call the legislature into special session.
The announcement comes after Jacob Blake, a black man, was shot by a law enforcement officer in Kenosha on Sunday, August 23.
“Today I am calling for a Special Session of the Legislature to take up the package of legislation we announced earlier this year,” said Evers. “We must begin the long but important path toward ensuring our state and our country start to live up to our promises of equity and justice. I am urging the Legislature to rise to this occasion and give this special session the urgent and productive effort this moment demands and that the people of Wisconsin deserve.”
Both houses of the state legislature have Republican majorities.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said on Monday he is creating a task force focusing on racial disparities, educational opportunities, public safety, and police policies and standards.
“Like many in Wisconsin, I watched the events in Kenosha unfold last night and was disturbed by the video of the officer-involved shooting. Jacob Blake and his family are in my prayers and I hope for his recovery," Vos said. “It’s essential that we get a complete picture of what happened. I would ask that the Wisconsin Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation meet its goal of completing a thorough investigation in 30 days. The Kenosha community deserves to know the totality of the circumstances leading up to the shooting. Before passing judgement, we have to know if the shocking 20-second video clip shared with the media tells the whole story."
Vos said the rioting and destruction of property that followed the shooting was not good.
“I was also deeply disturbed about what occurred in Kenosha: the demonstrators’ complete disregard to public safety, damage to personal property, and the attack on police. Moving forward, I encourage those who would like to express their frustration and anger to do so peacefully," Vos said.
In his order, Evers referenced "systemic injustices in our criminal justice system."
The package of legislation included in the governor’s special session call includes: Establishes statewide use of force standards for all law enforcement agencies; prohibits discipline of a law enforcement officer for reporting a violation of a law enforcement agency's use of force policy; requires each law enforcement officer to annually complete at least eight hours of training on use of force options and de-escalation techniques; requires law enforcement agencies to develop policies prohibiting the use of chokeholds; requires each law enforcement agency to make its use of force policy available publicly online; and creates a civil cause of action for unnecessarily summoning a law enforcement officer with intent to infringe upon a right of the person under the Wisconsin Constitution or the U.S. Constitution; unlawfully discriminate against the person; cause the person to feel harassed, humiliated, or embarrassed; cause the person to be expelled from a place in which the person is lawfully located; damage the person's reputation or standing within the community; or damage the person's financial, economic, consumer, or business prospects or interests. Another bill in the Evers docket prohibits no-knock execution of search warrants.