FILE - Police car lights

(The Center Square) – The next step for police reform in Wisconsin could be as simple as a file.

Sen. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, and Rep. Ron Tusler, R-Harrison, this week reintroduced a proposal to create a new employee file for police officers and sheriff’s deputies in the state.

“Law enforcement agencies want only the best to join their ranks, and this bill helps to ensure that,” Testin said.

The central idea of the proposed law is a file that travels with officers from job to job. That file would include performance reviews, commendations, and also any black marks against the officer.

“We are working with law enforcement to preclude unsuitable candidates and to elevate the most qualified,” Tusler said.

The proposal would also give the state’s Law Enforcement Standards Board the power to set new minimum qualification standards for new recruits and statewide training standards for all officers.

“The input we’ve received from law enforcement agencies has been invaluable and serves to demonstrate the commitment they have to pursuing excellence,” Testin added.

This is the second go-round for this legislation. Tusler first introduced it back in 2017. It didn’t become law, so he is trying again.

The difference between the 2017 proposal and the 2021 proposal is that there is a new governor and a new attorney general in Wisconsin.

That change may mean a difference in what new training standards for officers will be.

Testin and Tusler said they had at least one Democratic lawmaker on board with the legislation, as well as the state’s major law enforcement groups. 

The Wisconsin Department of Justice, the Wisconsin Association of Police Chiefs, the Badger State Sheriffs’ Association, the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association and the Wisconsin Professional Police Association all support the plan.