State Watch

Wisconsin governor signs bill banning police chokeholds

Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers awaits to address the virtual Democratic National Convention, at the Wisconsin Center on August 19, 2020 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The convention, which was once expected to draw 50,000 people to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is now

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers (D) signed a bill on Tuesday banning the use of police chokeholds except in limited circumstances.

Under Senate Bill 121, a law enforcement agency “may not authorize the use of choke holds by law enforcement officers in a policy or standard under this subsection, except in life−threatening situations or in self−defense,” according to its text.

The Republican-controlled state Senate passed the bill by voice vote on June 9, though some Democrats argued that there should be no exceptions to banning chokeholds. The Wisconsin Assembly passed the bill a week later.

Use of chokeholds by police came under scrutiny last year after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.

Floyd died after former officer Derek Chauvin pressed his knee into Floyd’s neck for around nine minutes. Chauvin was convicted of murder in May over Floyd’s death, and is scheduled to be sentenced this month. 

According to The Associated Press, chokeholds are not taught as a compliance technique during law enforcement training in Wisconsin. Several police departments in the state have already taken steps to prohibit or outright ban the use of chokeholds.

Evers signed an executive order in April directing state-managed law enforcement agencies to prevent officers from using chokeholds or any other technique involving applying pressure against a person’s neck for controlling them.

Senate Bill 121 was one of four police-reform measures that Evers signed.

Evers also signed Senate Bill 122, which requires public access to police use-of-force policies. In addition, Senate Bill 123 would require the Wisconsin Department of Justice to collect data and public an annual report on use-of-force incidents.

The governor also signed Senate Bill 124, which establishes a $600,000 grant program for cities with a population of at least 60,000 to fund community-oriented policing-house programs.

But in a signing letter, Evers called on the GOP-controlled legislature to send more police-reform measures to his desk.

“There is no excuse for these four bills being the only bills that get to my desk,” Evers wrote. “Today is not the end, it has to be the beginning.”

Tags police reform Tony Evers Wisconsin
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