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Police groups call for bail reform after recent shootings of officers, community violence

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Posted at 4:46 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 18:27:47-05

Police groups and former Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch met Tuesday to call for bail reform.

“How many citizens have to get victimized and how many more police officers have to get shot in our city, before something is done about our current low bail crisis," said Alex Ayala, Milwaukee Police Association (MPA) vice president.

Ayala, along with Kleefisch and Mark Sette, Wisconsin Fraternal Order of Police vice president, shared concerns at the MPA office on Bluemound.

"It is absolutely out of control. Our cities are war zones and our officers are paying the price," said Sette. "We have unfortunately seen very tragic events here in Wisconsin, last year and this year, with people that have been released on little or no bail."

Two police officers and a Milwaukee County Sheriff's deputy were shot this month on the job. All three survived.

Two men charged with shooting the police officers were out on bail with open felony court cases.

In another high profile case, Darrell Brooks, the man who drove his SUV in the Waukesha Christmas Parade, had just bonded out on $1,000 after being charged with a violent crime.

Wisconsin's cash bail system is designed to ensure defendants appear in court, but there is no set minimum bail.

Republican lawmakers just introduced legislation to change that. They're pushing for a minimum bail of $10,000 for defendants with a prior felony or violent misdemeanor.

"I back the bills in the legislature today," said Kleefisch, who's running for governor this November. Both the MPA and Wisconsin Fraternal Order of Police have endorsed her.

Beyond the set minimum bail, Kleefisch indicated she may be open to an even bigger overhaul.

"I think that the discussion of eliminating cash bail is one we need to have over the next ten months," she said.

Both Kleefisch and her Republican primary challenger, Kevin Nicholson, agree that district attorneys should lose discretion to set bail.

"I want mandatory minimum bail, mandatory minimum sentencing for violent crimes and violent charges," said Nicholson in a recent interview with TMJ4.

State Democrats argue that the Republican-backed laws would only lead to more jail overcrowding and more defendants awaiting trial in a system that is already backlogged with criminal cases.

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