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MADISON, Wis. - A bill
that would require independent investigations of police shootings faces an
uncertain future at the Capitol.

The measure was
brought about in part by friends of Paul Heenan, an unarmed man shot and killed
by a Madison Police officer in November 2012.

The bill passed the
state Assembly on a voice vote, and passed unanimously out of a Senate
committee last week, but it isn't on the Senate's calendar for Tuesday and
there's no guarantee at this point that it will be.

The state's largest
law enforcement group, the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, says
they're pushing for the Senate to take up the bill saying it has wide support.

"I think that
this measure represents what is the most prevalent practice in the state and
that's having outside agencies come in and investigate any situation that
involves an officer-related death," said Jim Palmer, Executive Director of
the WPPA. "This would mandate it uniformly across the board and I think
there's a lot of value in that."

A poll WPPA
commissioned by saint norbert college found 83 percent of 400 people polled
said they had "more confidence' in the investigation of an officer's use
of deadly force if the review was conducted by an outside agency. Only 10
percent thought keeping the reveiw in-house was a good idea.

The bill has also been
pushed by families and friends who lost loved-ones. In Madison, following the
shooting death of Paul Heenan by officer Stephen Heimsness in November 2012,
Heimsness was cleared of wrongdoing by his own department and the district attorney.
Michael Bell died at the hand of a Kenosha police officer in 2004 who was also
cleared by his own agency.

Currently no state
police agency opposes the bill, but right now it's waiting for a vote in the

"If it doesn't
pass we'll have to roll up our sleeves and work on it again," said Palmer.
"I think everyone is eager to get to the table and have that

In a statement, Senate
Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said the bill would not be on the
calendar for this coming Tuesday but quote "still may be considered for
Apri 1st." That's the last day the senate is expected to be in session, so
it would have to pass that day to go to the governor's desk.

Police investigations bill faces uncertain future Saturday, March 15 2014, 03:39 PM CDT

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