WI Attorney General promotes ‘Safer Wisconsin’ legislation in Green Bay
GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul is traveling the state to promote ‘Safer Wisconsin’.
It’s a large, legislative package of bills that he said will help ‘reduce crime and support stronger communities’.
During a stop in Green Bay Tuesday, Kaul said the state has a $2.5 billion surplus. He would like to use $115 million from that fund to invest in public safety, but to use that money, the Republican-led legislature would have to sign off on it.
If passed, Kaul said the money would help in four key areas:
1. Strengthening community trust and preventing crime
2. Keeping guns out of the hands of people who’ve been shown to be dangerous
3. Addressing substance use disorder and mental health crises.
4. Holding offenders accountable.
When looking at the breakdown of funds, $20 million would help local units of government to invest in community policing and community prosecutors. An additional $10 million would support officer recruitment, retention, and wellness.
As Action 2 News has previously reported, the Green Bay Police Department said it is struggling to hire new officers.
“Right now, no matter what line of work you’re in, it’s tough to hire people and law enforcement is no exception, but through programs that talk about great work and provide training and mentoring to those who want to become law enforcement, we can do more to help with recruitment,” said Kaul. “It’s important to get those resources to communities across the state so they can tailor their solutions to their local needs. The type of community policing Green bay adopts may be different from somewhere else.”
Kaul’s opponent in the upcoming election, Fond du Lac County District Attorney Eric Toney, said Kaul shouldn’t rely on the legislature to fix the problem.
“The problem is the Attorney General waited 22 months and he’s asking to go through the legislature when he could make one phone call to the governor asking the governor to release COVID relief funds for this very issue. If he’s done that, and the governor has said no, we should know about that,” said Toney. “An immediate step that could be taken would be allowing grants to police agencies to be able to pay for the police academy and salary for people that want to change careers to go into law enforcement so we can make sure we are recruiting the best and the brightest for law enforcement.”
The 81-page piece of legislation also includes statutory changes like gun laws.
“One thing we are doing is proposing expanding background checks in Wisconsin. Right now the vast majority of people who want to buy a gun have to go through a background check, but not everybody there are loopholes to allow people to evade those background checks, we want to shut those down.
Toney doesn’t think that will clear the Republican-led legislature.
“It’s just another example when you look at the entire proposal of injecting liberal wish-list ideas into a public safety package. He’s playing politics with this issue when Wisconsinites and law enforcement need help now not political posturing,” said Toney.
Kaul said the legislature can take up this group of bills at any time.
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