Wisconsin Senate passes bill prohibiting police chokeholds

Wisconsin Senate passes bill prohibiting police chokeholds
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The Wisconsin state Senate on Wednesday voted in favor of legislation that would ban police from using chokeholds during arrests, unless they are in exceptional life-threatening situations. 

The bill passed through a voice vote in the Republican-controlled Senate, despite opposition from some Democrats, who argued that there should be no exceptions to a chokehold ban, The Associated Press reported. 

However, state GOP lawmakers have argued that the bill would all-but eliminate the use of chokeholds, a use of force that gained increased national scrutiny in the past year following the Minneapolis police killing of George Floyd

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Last May, former officer Derek Chauvin, who has since been found guilty of murdering Floyd, pressed his knee into the 46-year-old Black man’s neck for roughly nine minutes before Floyd died. 

The AP noted Wednesday that several Wisconsin police departments have already implemented measures prohibiting chokeholds, with Milwaukee banning them in all circumstances. 

Chokeholds are also not taught as a compliance technique during law enforcement training in Wisconsin, according to the AP. 

Democratic Gov. Tony EversTony EversWisconsin Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes enters Senate race Wisconsin adds gender neutral option to birth certificates Overnight Health Care: House panels launch probe into Alzheimer's drug | Half of public health workers experiencing mental health strain | Puerto Rico presses Congress to prevent 'Medicaid cliff' MORE in the weeks following Floyd’s death had called for a complete ban on police chokeholds, though this past April he ordered Wisconsin State Patrol and other state law enforcement agencies to update their policies to list chokeholds only as a last resort use-of-force. 

A slew of other police reform bills are currently making their way through the Wisconsin legislature, including one passed Wednesday that has drawn opposition from Democrats and local governments for attempting to stop efforts to defund police departments. 

Under the bill, municipalities that decreased funding for police would receive less state aid, while municipalities that do not cut police budgets would benefit from an increase in state funding. 

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Democratic lawmakers in the state, including state Sen. Bob Wirch, say that the police funding bill is an example of severe state overreach into the affairs of local governments. 

“This is shameful,” he said of the bill, which Evers is expected to veto if it passes the Wisconsin state assembly, according to the AP. 

Last month, the Wisconsin state Senate passed several measures addressing police reform, including the creation of a new police grant program and requiring the Wisconsin Justice Department to gather additional data on police use-of-force incidents.