News director named to legislative committee on police body cameras

In the News Legal & Legislative Issues

The news director at WISN-TV in Milwaukee has been named to sit on a Legislative Council Study Committee to study the use of police body cameras in Wisconsin.

Ben Hart testified to an Assembly committee in January in opposition to a bill proposed in the last session of the legislature that would have established rules for how law enforcement releases body camera footage to the public. While the WBA supports efforts to regulate the use of police body cameras and the footage gathered by the cameras, the WBA expressed concerned about the bill citing portions of the proposal that would have made it more difficult to get access to the video.

The bill passed the Assembly, but was not taken up for a vote in the Senate.

The WBA, along with the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, supported the creation of the Legislative Council Study Committee to study the issue and suggest possible legislation for future sessions.

“Transparency in policing is an integral foundation for strong communities. Our job as journalists is to bridge the gap between what people ‘think’ and what ‘know’ as fact,” Hart said after his appointment. “For years, taxpayers across Wisconsin have paid to install body cam technology to document our public servants. It helps guarantee there is no mistake about what they face every day. As community servants we should take every opportunity to keep our citizens informed with minimal chance for rumor or misinformation.”

The committee’s first meeting date has not yet been set. The committee members include:

Legislative Members

Rep. Chris Taylor, Vice Chair
Sen. Patrick Testin, Chair
Rep. John Spiros
Sen. Chris Larson

Public Members

Kevin Croninger, Sparta District Attorney, Monroe County
Catherine Dorl, Madison Managing Attorney, State Public Defender’s Office
James Friedman, Madison Attorney, Godfrey & Kahn
Ben Hart, Milwaukee News Director, WISN-TV
Mike Kass, Brown Deer Chief of Police, Brown Deer Police Department
Jeff Klatt, Knapp Deputy Sheriff, St. Croix County