Target: Scott Walker, Governor of Wisconsin
Goal: Praise law mandating an independent investigation of cases against police officers using deadly force
Outside investigations will be required in all cases where a police officer kills a civilian, thanks to a new Wisconsin law. In most of the United States it is up to to police departments to build cases against their own officers when loss of life occurs, creating a clear conflict of interest. Wisconsin has become the first state to mandate that outside investigators conduct independent inquiries, a measure that will help ensure objectivity and a fair trial.
Citizens have been campaigning for such a law since 2004, when 21-year-old Michael Bell was shot point-blank in the temple by a police officer who approached him on suspicion of drinking and driving. After an investigation lasting only two days, the police department found that the homicide was justified and the officers acted appropriately. According to Bell’s father, who conducted similar investigations while in the military, that wouldn’t have been enough time to gather statements from each witness and obtain laboratory reports.
Protests gained momentum in 2011 when Derek Williams died in the back of a police car as two officers watched. The medical examiner called his cause of death homicide due to negligence, but a police department investigation concluded that the officers were not guilty of any wrongdoing.
With help from police departments, unions, and political backers, Michael Bell’s family was able to create legislation that would prevent similar situations in the future. Rather than the police policing themselves, outside investigators will ensure an unbiased investigation into all loss of life cases involving an officer. Sign the petition below to thank Wisconsin legislators for the bill, which will help reduce unchecked police violence.
Dear Governor Walker,
A new law requires independent investigations by outside parties to be conducted when a police officer uses deadly force. Previously, it was up to the police to investigate their own officers, a policy that has resulted in incomplete investigations and officers being let off the hook after killing a civilian.
As frustration over the overuse of force by police rises in America, it is important to ensure that law enforcement officials are held accountable for their actions. We, the undersigned, commend your efforts to ensure fair and unbiased investigations by mandating independent inquiries of cases involving loss of life at the hands of a police officer.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Fry 1989 via Public Domain