A State Representative has introduced a "Blue Lives Matter" bill (AB 48). It was referred to the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety and will be heard on Thursday, April 6 at 10am, in 225 Northwest in the State Capitol. In response to the announcement, the ACLU of Wisconsin issues the following statement. It is attributable to ACLU of Wisconsin Interim Executive Director Molly Collins.
“Proponents of "Blue Lives Matter" legislation, which would enhance penalties for crimes against police officers by making them hate crimes, pay lip service to protecting the police without actually doing so. There is absolutely no evidence that these kinds of bills are necessary, or that they make police safer. There are already severe penalties for attacks on police officers in Wisconsin, where even a threat of harm to a police officer or a member of their family may be charged as a felony.
Police work is undoubtedly dangerous and stressful. But crimes committed against first responders BECAUSE of their status as first responders are infrequent, and crimes against police in general, regardless of motive, are down, not up. The deaths of the 64 officers killed by guns across the nation in 2016 are tragic, but not evidence of a war on police. Rather than focusing on how to address a non-existent problem, we need to focus on addressing the very real and pressing problem of how poor communities and people of color in Wisconsin are targeted by biased policing, mass incarceration, systematic neglect, and laws that protect police from being held accountable when they act improperly.
Police officers and their families will not be helped by pushing a heightened sense of victimization. Police officers are valued public servants, not members of a minority group.
Claiming that there is a war against police does a disservice to everyone. A more useful approach would be creating a better working environment for police officers through building community partnership and trust. Community trust requires police department transparency and accountability and ensuring that people in all communities receive fair and equitable policing services. We should train officers how to avoid unnecessarily dangerous encounters, deescalate potentially violent situations, recognize the stress police officers and their families confront, and provide mental health resources for those who need assistance.”
The ACLU of Wisconsin is a non-profit, non-partisan, private organization whose 11,000 members support its efforts to defend the civil rights and liberties of all Wisconsin residents. For more on the ACLU of Wisconsin, visit our website, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter at @ACLUofWisconsin and @ACLUMadison.