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Area law enforcement react to police reform bill

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WISCONSIN, (WAOW)-- A police reform bill was recently passed in Wisconsin and is heading to Governor Tony Evers' desk.

Area law enforcement said that many of the policies in the bill they already have in place.

"I think a lot of the legislation is some common sense stuff that a lot of agencies are already doing," Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven said.

Part of the bill includes working with mental health professionals to help officers de-escalate situations.

"We have mental health professionals that work just outside my officer here and they're paired with a police officer and they go into the community to respond to people who are in crisis, people who are having a mental health crisis," Bliven said.

Officials at North Central Healthcare say the partnership would make a big difference in people's lives.

"Our crisis team works with law enforcement on a weekly and nightly basis. Those relationships are just imperative. We have tight relationships with our law enforcement leaders in our countries and that's so crucial to the work we do," North Central Healthcare Behavioral Health Director Trisha Stefonek said.

Also included in the proposals are solid use of force policies, as well as the banning of choke-holds, something both Wausau and Stevens Point Police Departments say they already avoid.

"The use of force police is online, we've implemented that a least a year ago and actually we've gone beyond that point and we have our entire department policy available on the same website," Stevens Point Interim Police Chief Tom Zenner said.

The legislation has been passed and is just waiting on Governor Evers's signature. Both police department said regardless of what happens, they plan to continue to protect and serve to the best of their abilities.

Brittany Slaughter

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