Police Power Grab Assembly Bill 237 – Read Wisconsin Carry Letter to the State Legislature
Wisconsin --(Ammoland.com)- The following letter was submitted to the state legislature this morning regarding Assembly Bill 237 which would grant police new statutory authority to arrest citizens for civil forfeiture violations (dog at large, fireworks violations, sending unsolicited fax) and hundreds of other minor infractions which currently police many not arrest for, only issue a citation.
Please share this letter with your state representatives and senators.
Last night Representative Farrow REMOVED himself as a co-author of the bill thanks to the efforts of our members who contacted him. Please contact your reps and senators, share this letter, and ask them to REJECT Assembly bill 237.
You may locate your state legislators here:
Dear Rep. Bies, Assembly rules committee, Assembly Criminal Justice Committee, et al,
On October 5th of this year a letter was submitted by Asst. Police Chief Dean J. Collins who is championing a request for the legislature to change state law with regard to forfeiture violations.
Currently there are violations which the state legislature felt were not serious enough offenses to warrant potential incarceration. Those violations are punishable only by civil forfeiture (fine).
Wisconsin Carry is mindful that the legislature is faced with a diverse assortment of requests for potential new legislation. We are also aware that, unfortunately, it is nearly impossible for you to become an expert in each piece of legislation that you will evaluate and vote for in your capacity as a legislator. For that reason you rely on what you hope to be the honest and truthful input from your constituencies.
The purpose of this letter is to bring to your attention some glaring and significant misrepresentation of fact that we have become aware of which occurred in both the letter submitted to the Criminal Justice Committee on October 5th, as well as the testimony given by Brookfield Asst. Police Chief Dean J. Collins on October 24th.
A copy of the letter is available here:
A link to the video testimony is available here: (note Chief Collins testimony begins at approximately the 54 minute mark)
In the letter and video testimony, Asst. Chief Collins suggests that this legislation is necessary to protect municipalities from lawsuit for unlawful arrest. Mr. Collins uses a lawsuit that Wisconsin Carry filed against the City of Brookfield and some of its police officers as evidence that this legislation is necessary. It is important for the committee and legislature to be aware that the primary reason Brookfield was sued was because their officers initiated a felony stop with guns drawn against, made an unlawful arrest of, unlawfully searched a vehicle of, and unlawfully seized property of, one of our members *without probable cause* nor *reasonable suspicion* that she had committed any crime OR violation of any statute.
Let me be perfectly clear. Brookfield was not primarily sued because they lacked the statutory authority to arrest for unlawful transport. Brookfield was sued because they had no probable cause or reasonable suspicion to detain or arrest our member for any reason at the time they initiated the felony stop against her. Brookfield officers violated our members 14th amendment due process rights which incorporate the 4th amendment rights to be free from unlawful search and seizure. If you pass this law, Brookfield would still have faced a nearly identical lawsuit and the outcome would have been identical.
Changing this law vastly expands police authority, but it *will not* protect Brookfield or any other municipality from the very same litigation that they faced and that other departments who violate the civil rights of our members will face in the future. It is our hope that we never have to file another lawsuit. This will be possible if police departments around the state train their officers to understand the basic concepts of reasonable suspicion and probable cause before detaining or arresting people. AB 237 will have the opposite affect. It will perpetuate a false belief that police can arrest anyone, at any time. Ironically, Wisconsin Carry believes that despite the months that have passed for Brookfield to conduct a full review of their procedures, Asst. Chief Collins testimony and his misconceptions about why his department was sued make a convincing argument that the people of Wisconsin need MORE legislative protections from law enforcement personnel who fail to grasp the basic US Constitutional rights that his officers violated in this situation, not less protections. When civil rights are violated, the solution ought not to be to request new legislation to expand police power and erode citizen’s rights so they cannot be violated, but rather to end the practice of violation of people’s civil rights.
Furthermore, in the video testimony from Asst. Chief Collins he makes the statement that if the legislature does not pass this bill there will be “nothing the police can do” to enforce civil forfeitures. This is also categorically false. Police will continue to be able to issue citations for fines in these situations. If those fines go unpaid,courts can and will continue to issue bench warrants for the arrest of the persons who do not pay their civil forfeiture. This procedure has worked very well throughout the history of our state.
It is intellectually dishonest for Asst. Chief Collins to misrepresent this truth to the Criminal Justice Committee in his testimony.
State civil forfeiture violations are things the legislature felt were not serious enough violations to be punishable by jail, rather only monetary penalty. Therefore the authority to arrest a person for those very same violations was not appropriate. If the legislature now believes that there are some violations that are currently only civil forfeitures that the legislature believes *should* be punishable by greater penalties than we would encourage the legislature to address those individually and make those specific violations crimes so that law enforcement can exercise the statutory authority to arrest that already exists under state law, and NOT create new legislation that gives the police blanket authority to arrest citizens for violations so simple as “dog at large” “sending an unsolicited fax” or “fireworks violations” just to name a few.
We recognize the police would surely like to have the power to arrest anyone at any time for any violation no matter how minor, but we believe that a *critical* role of government has always been to limit the authority of law enforcement to a specifically defined set of parameters and thus protect the civil rights of citizens and provide protection from an over-reach of authority and prevent a move toward a police state.
Thank-you for your thoughtful consideration. On behalf of the Wisconsin Carry, Inc. Board of Directors and our membership in the State of Wisconsin, we urge you to reject Assembly Bill 237.
Carry On,Nik Clark Chairman – Wisconsin Carry, Inc.
P.O. Box 270403
Milwaukee, WI 53227
Wisconsin Carry, Inc. is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the preservation and reclamation of the rights of law-abiding Wisconsin residents to carry in the manner of their choosing. We believe that “open carry” and “concealed carry” are choices to be made by law-abiding citizens based on their situation and preference. Wisconsin Carry, like many gun-rights organizations in Wisconsin, is investing a great deal of resources to get Wisconsin law changed to allow concealed carry this next legislative session by proposing Constitutional Carry. Wisconsin Carry, Inc. will continue to use legal recourse to deter unlawful treatment of law-abiding Wisconsin residents who currently exercise their right to open carry, and soon will exercise their right to concealed carry in Wisconsin. Visit: www.wisconsincarry.org