Law Enforcement Bills Headed to Governor’s Desk

On its last day of session, the Wisconsin Senate passed a number of bills of interest to law enforcement. Most notable was legislation (SB 373) that fixed a significant issue – the collection of DNA samples.

In 2013, Gov. Scott Walker included language in the Budget bill that would allow law enforcement to collect DNA samples at arrest. During the budget writing process, the Legislature amended the bill so that law enforcement were forced to store, and in some cases, destroy the samples, instead of sending the DNA samples directly to the state DOJ crime labs.

Sen. Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) offered an amendment to SB 373, which provided that law enforcement no longer would have to store the DNA samples. However, the Assembly further amended the bill limiting the circumstances for the collection of DNA samples to only violent crimes, which the new law defines. Gov. Scott Walker is scheduled to sign the bill into law on Tuesday, April 8.

Below is a summary of all of the bills of interest to law enforcement that passed this week and are headed to the Governor for his signature.

SB 373 (Law Enforcement Standards and DNA Collection): SB 373 makes changes to current law relating to the standards for the training and certification of law enforcement officers, tribal law enforcement officers, jail officers, juvenile detention officers, and constables. A Senate amendment  made the following changes:

  • The law enforcement or tribal law enforcement agency must submit the biological specimen in a manner specified in DOJ rules.
  • The court must notify the crime laboratories if any of the following applies:
    • The individual was arrested, or the juvenile was taken into custody, under a warrant.
    • The court has made a finding that there is probable cause that the individual committed a felony or that the juvenile committed an offense that would be a felony if committed by an adult in this state.
    • The individual failed to appear at the initial appearance or preliminary examination or the person waived the preliminary examination.
    • The individual failed to appear for a delinquency proceeding under the Juvenile Justice Code.
  • The crime laboratories must analyze the DNA in the specimen and include the DNA profile under the state’s DNA data bank if the court notifies the crime laboratories within one year after the sample was submitted that any of the following listed above apply to the individual.
  • The crime laboratories must destroy the biological sample if one year after the date the biological sample was submitted, the court has not notified the crime laboratories that one of the four items listed above applies to the individual.
  • The bill, as amended by Senate Amendment 4, also provides that these changes related to when biological specimens are submitted to the state crime laboratories takes effect on April 1, 2015 and first applies to offenses committed on April 1, 2015.

The Assembly amendment includes all of the changes that the Senate amendment makes to current law related to the collection of biological specimens and submission to state crime laboratories for DNA analysis. However, it also limits the type of crime for which a biological specimen must be collected at the time that an individual is arrested or taken into custody. Instead of collecting biological specimens at the time an individual is arrested or taken into custody for a felony, law enforcement and tribal law enforcement must do so for a violent crime. To view what the bill defines a “violent crime” click here and read pages 3 and 4.

AB 556 (Strip Searches): AB 556 expands current law as to who may be strip searched by providing that a person taken into custody, if the person will be incarcerated, imprisoned, or otherwise detained in a jail or prison with one or more other persons, may be strip searched, subject to the requirements under current law. The bill was amended twice. Below is a discussion of both amendments.

  • This amendment defines “jail” for purposes of the strip search law to include municipal prisons and rehabilitation facilities established under s. 59.53 (8), Stats., by whatever name they are known, but does not include lockup facilities. “Lockup facilities” means a temporary place of detention at a police station used exclusively to hold persons under arrest until they can be brought before a court and that are not used to hold persons pending trial who have appeared in court or have been committed to imprisonment for nonpayment of fines or forfeitures.

This amendment makes the following changes to the bill:

  • Provides that the new category of detainees, created by the bill, who can be strip searched does not include a juvenile who is taken into custody under s. 938.19, Stats., and held in custody under s. 938.209, Stats. Thus, a juvenile who is taken into and held in custody and who will be placed with one or more other persons is not subject to a strip search under the bill. The amendment does not change the provision in current law allowing a juvenile to be strip searched if taken into custody for any felony or for certain battery or weapons-related misdemeanors.
  • Provides that, for a detainee who is strip searched under the new category created by the bill, the strip search may not include touching, unless the touching is necessary to gain the detainee’s cooperation with the search or to assist a disabled detainee’s cooperation with the search.
  • Provides that a detainee may be strip searched under the new category created by the bill only if the detainee will be incarcerated, imprisoned, or otherwise detained in the jail or prison for 12 or more hours.
  • Requires each law enforcement agency, and each facility where a strip search may be conducted, to establish written policies and procedures concerning strip searches and to provide annual training regarding the policies and procedures to any employee or agent who may conduct a strip search.

AB 409 (Investigation of Officer Involved Deaths): This legislation was amended significantly from its original version. Law enforcement had serious concerns with the original bill and worked with the author of the bill to amend it so that their concerns were properly addressed. Click here to read a fully summary of AB 409 as amended.

AB 780 (Elimination of Voluntary Intoxication as a Defense to Criminal Liability): Door County Sheriff Terry Vogel testified in support of in committee. AB 780 is in response to the horrific murder that took place in Door County. This bill eliminates the defense of voluntary intoxication, which was used by the defense in the case in Door County which led to a hung jury.

SB 196 (Use of Drones): SB 196 requires a law enforcement agency to obtain a warrant prior to using a drone to collect evidence. It provides exceptions to this requirement for the use of a drone in an active search and rescue operation; to locate an escaped prisoner; and in an emergency to prevent imminent danger to an individual or imminent destruction of evidence. Evidence obtained in violation of this provision is not admissible in any criminal proceeding.