Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday signed a new law requiring an outside investigation when people die in police custody — the first of its kind in the nation, reports the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The law requires a team of at least two investigators from an outside agency to lead reviews of such deaths. It requires reports of custody death investigations to be publicly released if criminal charges are not filed against the officers involved. Officers also must inform victims’ families of their options to pursue additional state and federal reviews.
The law is largely the work of Michael Bell, who has waged a 10-year campaign for greater accountability when police use lethal force. Bell’s namesake son was shot and killed by Kenosha police in 2004. The officers who killed Bell, 21, were quickly cleared of wrongdoing after an internal investigation. Bell’s father has spent more than $1 million on billboards, newspaper advertisements and a website to ask this question: When police kill, should they judge themselves?