February 11, 2014 by Nathan Royko Maurer, Amelia Royko Maurer, Michael Bell, Mark Caras and Michael Scott
[Paulie Heenan was fatally shot by Madison Police Officer Stephen Heimsness in November, 2012. Kenosha police shot and killed 21-year-old Michael Bell, Jr. in November, 2004.- Editors]
On Feb 6th 2014, an unprecedented gathering of civilians, sheriffs, police chiefs, district attorneys, law scholars, and representatives from the Badger State Sheriff’s Association and the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, met at the Dane County Sheriff’s Office to openly discuss the adoptive measures outlined in Wisconsin Assembly Bill 409.
The meeting, organized by friends of Paul Heenan and family members of Michael Bell Jr., and hosted by Dane County Sheriff David Mahoney, demonstrated willingness by high-ranking law professionals to hear community concerns regarding oversight of police-related fatalities.
AB 409, otherwise known as the Citizens and Law Enforcement Safety Act, would make Wisconsin the first state to require its law enforcement agencies to ensure a uniform level of external oversight of officer-involved or in-custody deaths.
The bill has cleared committee but has yet to be heard on the Assembly floor.
At issue in the February 6th meeting were specifics of the original version of the bill, including:
(1) Mandatory drug and alcohol testing for officers involved in a fatal incident.
(2) The creation of an investigation review board that would review the findings of the officer-involved fatality investigations.
The proposed board would consist of former law enforcement professionals and one professor with an expertise in criminal law.
A strong majority of participants agreed that the current form of the bill, which preserves the external investigative requirement, is a positive and workable step forward. The proposed requirement of a state-level review board and proof of sobriety remains unresolved.
All agreed that public trust and the ability for law enforcement to effectively do its job was the common goal and that further discussions on these issues are warranted.
While AB 409 co-authors, Rep. Garey Bies (R) Sister Bay and Rep. Chris Taylor (D) Madison were not in attendance, they were pleased to find most of the bill’s stakeholders making an effort to find common ground.
“It’s great to see these groups work together, discussing complex emotional issues in an adult fashion. I commend all involved,” reported Rep. Bies. Rep. Taylor recognized the meeting as an integral step in the process of creating a meaningful law. “I am extremely grateful to the advocates and law enforcement community for coming together, not just to establish an important dialogue but to work on common sense solutions. This is truly a model that leads to good policy.”
The attendees to the meeting were:
Russell Beckman – Retired Police Detective, City of Kenosha Police Department (262) 945-1249
Michael Bell – Father of Michael Bell Jr., Co-author of AB 409, retired Lieutenant Colonel, United States Air Force (262) 620-3677
Michael Scott – Director of the Center for Problem-Oriented Policing, Inc., former Chief of Police (608)-238-2844
Chief Gregory Leck – Stoughton Police Department (608) 873-3374
Amelia Royko Maurer – Friend of Paulie Heenan, AB 409 Advocate (608) 332-5042
Nathan Royko Maurer – Friend of Paulie Heenan, AB 409 Advocate (608) 217-7453
Sheriff David Mahoney – Dane County Sheriff’s Office (608) 284-6800
Dean Meyer – Exec. Director, Badger State Sheriff’s Association, Retired Sheriff (715) 415-2412
Sheriff Brent Oleson – Juneau County Sheriff’s Department, Legislative Committee Chair, Badger State Sheriff’s Association (608) 847-5649
Chief Deputy Jeff Hook – Dane County Sheriff’s Office (608) 284-6800
Sheriff David Kaminski – Rusk County Sheriff’s Department, President, Badger State Sheriff’s Association (715) 532-2189
E. Michael McCann – Retired District Attorney, Milwaukee County (414) 778-2040
Ismael Ozanne – District Attorney, Dane County, WI (608) 266-4211
Jim Palmer – Executive Director, Wisconsin Professional Police Association (608)-273-3840
Jean Papalia – Retired Police Officer, City of Madison (608) 577-6200
Chief Bernie Coughlin – Verona Police Department (608) 845-7623
Deputy Hayley Collins – Dane County Sheriff’s Office (608) 284-6800
Mark Caras – Researcher/Advisor, Michael Bell Team (773) 213-6290
Donna Erez-Navot – Facilitator, Director of the Mediation Clinic at UW Law School (608) 262-4870
Jonathan Scharrer – Facilitator, Director of the Restorative Justice Project, UW Law School Frank J. Remington Center (608) 263-7905