News from Representative Steil

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Friend,

The Preamble of the Constitution begins “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…” We are always working towards creating a more perfect Union. This past month has reminded us that we continue on this journey to better our state and nation. I am working with leaders in Southeast Wisconsin and my colleagues in Congress to tackle issues impacting our communities. 


Following the tragic death of George Floyd, I actively sought input from leaders across Southeast Wisconsin including African American community leaders, law enforcement officials, and citizens of the First District. These discussions highlighted opportunities to strengthen our community. In particular, I support increased use and funding for body cameras, additional police training, as well as resources to address the mental health needs of those in our communities. 


There is broad support for many police reform proposals—and reforms we can make now. We cannot allow partisanship to get in the way. We must find a solution that has overwhelming support and can be signed into law. 


There are two major proposals in Congress to address police reform. The first is the Just and Unifying Solutions to Invigorate Communities Everywhere (JUSTICE) Act introduced by Senator Tim Scott, a Republican from South Carolina and Congressman Pete Stauber, a Republican from Minnesota. The second is the Justice in Policing Act introduced by Congresswoman Karen Bass, a Democrat from California.


Following my conversations with leaders in Southeast Wisconsin, I cosponsored the JUSTICE Act. This bill increases de-escalation and duty to intervene training for police officers, ensures police departments retain only the best officers, and increases body camera usage. When discussing these issues with folks, it became clear to me that we should review the use of no-knock warrants, while at the same time, not immediately taking away this authority from police officers. The JUSTICE Act requires reporting and data collection on no-knock warrant usage.


The JUSTICE Act and Justice in Policing Act have many similarities, but they also have stark differences. Both proposals place limitations on chokeholds and other uses of force, increase the use of body-worn cameras, enhance transparency, and address training needs. 

 

However, the Justice in Policing Act includes a problematic provision that would make our communities less safe. The bill completely bans no-knock warrants at the federal level and encourages states to do the same. This is a step too far and I opposed the bill on the House floor. A no-knock warrant is a search warrant allowing a police officer to enter a home without knocking or announcing their presence first. While not frequently used, no-knock warrants are used in specific, life-threatening situations. Banning no-knock warrants puts Southeast Wisconsin at risk and hinders police from serving our community.

 

I will continue working to bring a bill to the floor that can pass through Congress and become law. I am committed to being a part of the solution. Our communities deserve for us to get to work.

 

Please do not hesitate to reach out to me if you want to share an opinion or if you need help with a federal agency.

 

On Wisconsin,

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Bryan G. Steil
Member of Congress

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