Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that requires police departments bring in investigators from outside their agencies when officer-involved deaths occur.
Wisconsin Assembly Bill 409 requires at least two outside investigators–one of whom will lead the effort– to look into such cases.
If district attorneys choose not to charge officers, the investigators must release their report into the death to the public.
Affected families must also be told how to file complaints and pursue charges through a judge if they don’t agree with the district attorney’s decision.
It requires reports of custody death investigations throughout the state to be publicly released if criminal charges are not filed against the officers involved.
Officers also must inform victims’ families of their options to pursue additional reviews via the U.S. attorney’s office or a state-level John Doe investigation.
The new mandates do not apply to deaths in county jails and state prisons, which already are investigated by the state Department of Corrections.
The new bill applies to deaths that happen when an officer is on duty or while he or she is off duty but performing activities that are within the scope of his or her law enforcement duties.
Internal department investigations are also still allowed but cannot interfere with the work of the outside investigations.