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Wisconsin Senate set to pass first police reform bills

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The full Wisconsin Senate was set Tuesday to take the Legislature’s first floor votes on police reform legislation since George Floyd’s death.

The Senate was scheduled to vote on bipartisan measures that would create a $600,000 grant program for police in large cities, require police to post use-of-force policies online and require the state Justice Department to gather more data on use-of-force incidents and produce an annual report.

The bills also would require police to maintain and share personnel files during the hiring process and require Milwaukee and Madison’s police and firefighter oversight commissions to accept a member nominee from police and firefighter unions.

The bills don’t address use-of-force tactics and policies. The legislation’s chief authors, Republican Sen. Van Wanggaard and Democratic Sen. Lena Taylor, say the proposals are a start toward accountability and more bills are coming, including a ban on chokeholds.

Tuesday’s actions will mark the first floor votes on police reform legislation since Floyd’s death in May 2020. Floyd died after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into his neck for more than nine minutes. Chauvin is white. Floyd was Black. His death sparked protests nationwide and sparked a reckoning on racism.

Democratic Gov. Tony Evers called two legislative special sessions to address police reform last year. Each time Republican legislators refused to convene. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos instead created a racial disparities task force.

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