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Sen. Baldwin supports police reform bill, does not endorse 'defund police'

NOW: Sen. Baldwin supports police reform bill, does not endorse ’defund police’

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) --  Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), said Tuesday changes in the sweeping police reform bill pushed by congressional Democrats are long overdue.

“Transparency and accountability provisions will help make deep and long lasting change," Baldwin said. "Just what we’ve heard people demanding.”

Some reforms include banning choke holds, grants for community public safety, reducing requirements to prosecute police misconduct and limiting military equipment for local police.

The Wisconsin Professional Police Association partially backs the proposal.

“There are a number of problems with some of the things in the house reform bill," WPPA Executive Director Jim Palmer said. "Having said that, I think there are a number of things that should be easy to accomplish on a national basis.”

Baldwin says police should not be responsible for societal problems like mental illness or drug addiction.

“We have for far too long used a criminal and incarceration strategy to deal with these,” Baldwin said.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) did not comment directly on the bill, but sent this statement: 

“I think it’s pretty obvious that you need police departments.…this isn’t to say that what happened to George Floyd wasn’t reprehensible. Certainly police unions and police departments really do need to police their own organizations and call out officers that aren’t doing the job and following the law. But, we absolutely need police men and women to maintain public order and public safety.”

Like Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden, Baldwin stopped short of supporting the phrase “defund the police.” Both Baldwin and Palmer said the phrase means different things to different people.

“If someone is breaking into your home, you need to be able to call 911, and the police need to be able to show up,” Baldwin said.

It is not yet clear how exactly Republicans will handle the bill. There has been little comment either for or against it from the party. A Senate staffer told CBS 58 the Republican-controlled Senate would likely want to see changes from the bill House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is pushing.

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