Bill Would Expand Community-Oriented Policing
Bipartisan legislation funds additional COP houses in high-crime neighborhoods.
A proposal included in a package of policing bills making their way through the state Legislature would expand what are known as COP houses to cities across Wisconsin. Community-oriented policing — or the idea of placing police officers in high crime neighborhoods — was first used in Racine nearly 30 years ago.
The bipartisan bill, introduced by state Sens. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, and Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, would create a $600,000 grant program to fund the creation of COP house programs in cities with more than 60,000 residents.
The use of COP houses first appeared in Racine in 1993. During an appearance on WPR’s “The Morning Show,” Racine Police Department Sgt. Joseph Spaulding said it was a reaction to an increase in drug, gang and violent crimes.
Spaulding said embedding officers in homes located in communities experiencing high rates of crime has worked.
“We’re seeing a dramatic decrease in crime and especially violent crime,” said Spaulding. “And we’re seeing an increase in the police department working with the community and the neighbors and building trust in one another.”
Spaulding said probation and parole officers with the Wisconsin Department of Justice have also been stationed at COP houses.
The bill passed the state Senate unanimously on Tuesday. Lobbying groups including the State Bar of Wisconsin, City of Milwaukee, Americans for Prosperity, Milwaukee Police Association and Wisconsin Professional Police Association registered in favor of the bill. The American Civil Liberties Union of Wisconsin was the sole group to come out against the bill.
“The communities that are currently targeted by police do not need more of their physical presence in their communities,” said the group. “This money could be better spent by investing in strategies that get at the root causes of low-level crimes.”
Bill Would Expand Program Placing Police Officers In High Crime Neighborhoods Across Wisconsin was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.