The Brillion News
MADISON – State Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) unveiled a series of legislative proposals on Wednesday, August 26, called the Public Safety PACT. The PACT consists of eight bills focused on maintaining high quality and effective law enforcement service, while improving the accountability, community involvement, and transparency of Wisconsin police.
“The overwhelming majority of law enforcement officers do an outstanding job. It’s important to remember, and to say, that,” said Wanggaard, a retired 30-year veteran of the Racine Police Department. “That doesn’t mean policing can’t be improved. The breakdown in trust didn’t occur overnight in some communities, and it won’t be fixed overnight. By increasing accountability, transparency and community involvement, more people will be able to see that good, quality policing is in every community’s best interest.”
The PACT has been developed over months, and in some cases, years, of conversations with law enforcement, victims’ advocates, national experts, and Republican and Democratic elected officials, including Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul.
Among the highlights of the legislative package are:
a new investigatory review board to identify root causes of use-of-force incidents in order to learn from and prevent them in the future,
reforms to the Milwaukee and Madison police and fire oversight boards,
a maintenance of effort requirement for police funding, and
modifications of several of Governor Evers’ special session bills.
“I don’t, and no one else should, view this as 'competition' with the special session bills. The timing of the release of this package and the events of the last week in purely coincidental. I’ve been developing these bills for months and in some cases years, and got the last final bill draft back after eight revisions yesterday,” said Wanggaard.
“The PACT should not be considered a Republican package of bills. I put the PACT together with input from a lot of parties, including Republicans and Democrats, with the goal of improving police service and its interaction with the community.”
“I am hopeful this package will continue to have bipartisan support and be signed into law by the governor. But that’s not guaranteed,” Wanggaard said. “I recognize that I, and supporters of the bills, need to do the legwork in the coming weeks and months to earn our votes. That’s how legislating and leadership works.”
Wanggaard unveiled the PACT bills now, hoping to pass the bills early during the 2021 legislative session.
Several of the bills will also be sent to the Law Enforcement Standards Bureau for their review
and input. The bill drafts can be found on the senator’s website, www.senatorwanggaard.com.