The Associated Students of Madison want to make sure the University of Wisconsin Police Department does not follow the national trend of police militarization.
ASM approved a piece of legislation that would encourage the University of Wisconsin to be more transparent about the equipment UWPD owns and intends to acquire.
Representatives voted 18-4 in support of the legislation.
Should the chancellor accept the legislation, their office will be required to disclose UWPD purchases of military-style equipment style weapons listed in a 2015 executive order.
“We need accountability and transparency especially in the parts of the government that unfortunately today have the reputation of oppressing the people they should be protecting,” Rep. Glen Water said. “Community control of the police require that we know what we we buy and how much money is being spent.”
ASM Student Council would like there to be a list of equipment that would be updated annually and made accessible.
Rep. Tyriek Mack said the policy is mainly to make sure there is transparency between the UWPD and the students. He said without the transparency, students do not know if their tuition funds could be used to purchase militarized weapons.
Mack said the legislation is part of the national Black Lives Matter platform.
“So you have to ask yourself, which side of history do you want to be on,” Mack said. “You want to be on the side that supports a national progressive movement or do you want to undermine that?”
Mack said he doubts UWPD is highly militarized. He said the bill is proactive because it is setting the protocol in case it becomes an issue in the future.
One of the main concerns for representatives was whether or not releasing a full list of equipment could be a security concern for the UWPD.
Student Activities Center Governing Board Chair Katrina Morrison said it could be a possible security threat for the UWPD if people know the quantities of every item.
She said it could give outside groups the opportunity to access possible weaknesses.
Morrison said she also believes this could be seen as an escalation of tactics and it might be better to have met with the UWPD chief or the chancellor first.
“I think we should strive to always work in tandem with [the administration and the UWPD] and demand what’s necessary after the proper steps have already been taken,” Morrison said.
Now that the legislation passed, Shared Governance Chair Omer Arain said ASM is now able to relay it to the chancellor and continue the conversation with her.
ASM set Sept. 30 as the date when the chancellor needs to meet their expectations proposed in the newly adopted legislation.