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Wisconsin Senate approves procedures for police body cams

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The public would have access to most police body-camera video under a bipartisan bill passed Wednesday by the state Senate.

The Senate also passed a host of tough-on-crime bills, including one increasing penalties for stealing cars, reckless driving and fleeing police.

Open-records advocates, media members and a broad array of law enforcement groups support the compromise bill providing greater public access to police body-camera footage. The bill wouldn’t require police to use body cameras, but it would declare that any footage that is captured would generally be available for the public to inspect and copy under Wisconsin’s open-records law.

The Senate passed it on a voice vote with no debate.

The Assembly is scheduled to vote on the measure Thursday, which would then send it to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.

The Senate approved a series of anti-crime bills to impose tougher sanctions and sentences on criminals. Evers, who campaigned on criminal justice reforms to reduce the prison population, is expected to veto them.

The Department of Corrections estimates that two new prisons would have to be built to handle the influx of inmates arrested under one proposal, which would require extended supervision, parole or probation to be revoked for people charged with a crime.

The Senate made a change to that bill, so now the Assembly must pass it again Thursday before it can go to Evers.

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