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Republican bill would overhaul Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission

The Milwaukee Fire and Police Commission could be in for some major changes, as part of a bill being proposed by state Republicans.

Assembly Bill 606 would require the 7-person board to have 1 member with professional firefighting experience, and 1 member with professional law enforcement experience. Right now, no board member has either.

The FPC is one of the most powerful civilian oversight groups in the country, in charge of hiring, firing, and protocol decisions for both departments. 

"They have no perspective for someone who's actually been on the street," says State Senator Van Wanggaard. "This would change that, and require that we have that expertise." 

Van Wanggaard is a former law enforcement member, who served on Racine's Police and Fire Commission before becoming a state Senator. 

"Having somebody there with the perspective of having done the job for almost 30 years, brought a whole different perspective."

But State Senator Lena Taylor says the changes could undermine the entire purpose of the board; to serve as a citizen committee.

"I really don't want to dilute the power of citizens being engaged in this process," she says. "I believe that there's some insight that could be done, but this is supposed to be a citizen review." 

The bill would also require the city to continue paying firefighters and law enforcement members during disciplinary hearings. It's unclear how much that would cost taxpayers in Milwaukee. 


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