Aug 26, 2020

WI Attorney General Press Conference Transcript August 26: Police Shooting of Jacob Blake

WI Attorney General Press Conference Transcript August 26: Shooting of Jacob Blake
RevBlogTranscriptsPress Conference TranscriptsWI Attorney General Press Conference Transcript August 26: Police Shooting of Jacob Blake

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul held a press conference on August 26 to address and provide updates on the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Read the transcript of his briefing here.

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Josh Kaul: (00:00)
That’ll be providing an update on the status of investigation, into an officer involved shooting incident that took place in Kenosha on Sunday evening. And then secondly, I’m also going to comment on some recent events that have taken place in Kenosha.

Josh Kaul: (00:17)
So first, we are going to be providing some updated information about some of the basic facts that have been learned so far in the investigation. We are able to do that at this point, because this is an ongoing investigation and some of the interviews of material witnesses have now been conducted. So we now feel comfortable, consistent with the investigation, to release this information.

Josh Kaul: (00:42)
We’ve sent out a press release that contains the details, but the basic facts that we can report at this time are these. That on the evening of Sunday, August 23rd, 2020, Kenosha Police Department officers were dispatched to a residence in the 2800 block of 40th street after a female caller reported that her boyfriend was present and was not supposed to be on the premises.

Josh Kaul: (01:10)
During the incident, officers attempted to arrest Jacob S. Blake, age 29. Law enforcement deployed a taser to attempt to stop Mr. Blake, but the taser was not successful in stopping him. Mr. Blake walked around his vehicle, opened the driver’s side door and leaned forward. While holding onto Mr. Blake’s shirt, officer Rustin Chesky fired his service weapon seven times. Officer Chesky fired the weapon into Mr. Blake’s back. No other officer fired their weapon.

Josh Kaul: (01:45)
The Kenosha Police Department does not have body cameras and therefore, the officers were not wearing body cameras. The shooting officer, Kenosha police officer Rustin Chesky has been a law enforcement officer with the Kenosha Police Department for seven years.

Josh Kaul: (02:03)
During the investigation following the initial incident, Mr. Blake admitted that he had a knife in his possession and DCI agents, that’s the Division of Criminal Investigation recovered a knife from the driver’s side floorboard of Mr. Blake’s vehicle. A search of the vehicle located no additional weapons.

Josh Kaul: (02:23)
Law enforcement immediately provided medical aid to Mr. Blake and Flight for Life transported him to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee. Mr. Blake remains at the hospital.

Josh Kaul: (02:34)
The Division of Criminal Investigation at the Wisconsin Department of Justice is leading this investigation, and it’s being assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Wisconsin State Patrol and the Kenosha County Sheriff’s office. All involved law enforcement officers are fully cooperating with DCI during the investigation and the involved officers have been placed on administrative leave.

Josh Kaul: (02:58)
As I said, this is an ongoing investigation. So that is the extent of the information regarding the facts of this case that we can share at this point. There have been interviews conducted of material witnesses, but the investigation remains ongoing.

Josh Kaul: (03:15)
Under Wisconsin law, in cases in which a person dies, in a case in which an officer fired their weapon, the law requires that an independent investigative agency be brought in to conduct the investigation. But in many other cases, the Wisconsin Department of Justice is brought in to conduct an independent investigation as well. And that is what is happening in this case.

Josh Kaul: (03:37)
Our agency is the independent investigating agency. Our job is to gather the evidence as completely and thoroughly as possible and provide that evidence to the District Attorney’s office. I’m joined today by, among others, DA Mike Graveley. Their office then makes the determination about whether charges are filed. So that’s the information I can provide right now about this case.

Josh Kaul: (04:04)
I also want to comment on the events yesterday evening in Kenosha. What happened yesterday night in Kenosha was despicable. Two people were shot and killed and a third person was shot and seriously injured. One of the things that we have seen in the last few nights is that there are a number of people, certainly some and quite possibly many of the people who’ve been involved in destructive activity or violent activity, who are not from the city of Kenosha and in some cases, not from the state of Wisconsin.

Josh Kaul: (04:41)
This community has been through some extremely traumatic events in the last few days. The people of this community deserve to have the opportunity to grieve. They deserve to have the opportunity to come together, to protest peacefully, to call for the change that they would like to see. And ultimately to work to heal this community.

Josh Kaul: (05:06)
People who are coming to the community to commit arson or violence, first of all, if they think they are serving some agenda, they are wrong. All they are doing is creating chaos. The people who have been impacted, in particular the people of Kenosha are the ones who should be leading the way as people protest peacefully.

Josh Kaul: (05:28)
It is vital that we work to unify people. There has been a lot of division recently. It’s easy for politicians to stoke division, but what we need to do is to come together as we work to strengthen our criminal justice system, as we work to call for justice in the system, and as we work to heal our communities.

Josh Kaul: (05:53)
So with that, I’m going to turn it over to District Attorney Graveley.

Michael D. Graveley: (06:01)
Thank you, everybody. So these are as difficult times as I’ve seen in Kenosha in the more than 30 years I’ve resided in this community. And it is a moment certainly in our history, that brings up some of the greatest issues of our time, right? In this moment of history.

Michael D. Graveley: (06:22)
I have been so proud as so many have of the moment of history we’re in, in so many ways. There’s been voices that have not always been in franchise, to have had a chance to speak with new clarity and passion over the last several months. And that has been, I think, inspirational to many people, including those who are asking and demanding reform in the criminal justice system.

Michael D. Graveley: (06:47)
And it is a moment here in Kenosha today where all grieve for Jacob Blake and hope for his recovery. We grieve for his family. You didn’t have to do more than see his mother and father express parents’ rage and grief at the moment that they are, in an emotional moment. And thinking about the way that we think about our children and that we want them safe. We think all the best of them, in terms of the kind of things that were said at the press conferences by the family.

Michael D. Graveley: (07:27)
We have a community today that is literally on fire, set on fire by the deep divisions that have been fueled by a number of forces that are brought to bear in this case. Systemic racism, with its insidious history in Kenosha and throughout the country is certainly a part of all the big issues that are being considered.

Michael D. Graveley: (07:52)
Modern policing and the tremendous difficulties and challenges ahead to think about how to police in an ever-changing society and community with different expectations, and concerns about how society’s forces have effected our ability to police and our ability to police in a new and modern way. And then a world of social media that has clearly emphasized immediate action over any ability to be calm or deliberate, when making the most important decisions in life. And has emphasized quick decision-making, immediacy and emotional impact, instead of thinking about making accurate decisions and prioritizing that above all else.

Michael D. Graveley: (08:49)
And so those forces are at work and anybody who doesn’t agree that those forces are at work, of course, is not really seeing this moment as we are here today in front of all of you. All of that said, I want to say that I endorse and applaud all of the methods of peaceful protest, both about this case and about those bigger issues that we’ve discussed.

Michael D. Graveley: (09:15)
I think it is gratifying to see folks like the Milwaukee Bucks, for instance, say that what they know about this case and the bigger issues it reflects, are things that they felt so strongly about, that they decided to make a dramatic statement, in terms of boycotting play. Those kinds of things are important and they add to the debate.

Michael D. Graveley: (09:38)
And the only thing I ask is that we understand that the destruction of property and that the violence that has too often occurred in this community over the last couple of days, does a disservice to this moment in history, and does a dramatic disservice to an ability for there to be a profound and complicated and absolutely necessary conversation.

Michael D. Graveley: (10:02)
… an absolutely necessary conversation. Now I’ve said all that and I’ve tried to talk in broad strokes, but I need to let you know specifically what the role of a prosecutor is in this particular moment in reviewing this case. So the statute in Wisconsin demands quite appropriately that an independent investigative agency do all of the investigative work in this case.

Michael D. Graveley: (10:31)
And so the individuals who are involved directly, who fired the shot, the particular police officer is a Kenosha police department officer. So the department that is investigating as you know, is through the department of justice here in Wisconsin. So that is an agency that has no direct connection to the Kenosha police department. And they are conducting that investigation in full.

Michael D. Graveley: (10:57)
When they complete that investigation, it’s turned over again by statute, by law, to the local district attorney’s office. And that will be our office. And we have, by law, a very narrow task in the enormity of the big issues I talked about. We are asked to review that independently garnered evidence, and we are asked, are there any crimes that a police officer has committed that can be proven to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt?

Michael D. Graveley: (11:29)
So I need to let you know now and the community know that is the only question that the Kenosha district attorney’s office will answer. All of the bigger issues that are so important will not be issues that will not be definitively decided by Kenosha’s district attorney’s office.

Michael D. Graveley: (11:51)
We will only decide whether any Kenosha police officer is going to be charged with a crime. And that can only occur if we believe that that crime can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. So I hope and expect and want the public to get the best possible decision in that regard.

Michael D. Graveley: (12:16)
And I believe the public deserves a decision that is based on reason, and that is based on the most full and most accurate information that can be obtained. And so I hope all those who witnessed the events that we have seen on video, all those persons present and who have information, I hope they fully cooperate in this investigation because that’s the path to the truth. That’s the path to real decision-making being able to occur in this case.

Michael D. Graveley: (12:47)
And I ask for as much patience as our times allow, because again, if we value accuracy and we value real decision-making over a quick decision made in the most emotional moment, then we have to facilitate a full and complete investigation. And I know that the department of criminal investigations, DCI is doing all they can to accomplish that.

Michael D. Graveley: (13:14)
And I want to be sure that the public has the maximum ability to be confident in this decision. And I’ve called on the US Attorney’s office to conduct a parallel investigation. I’ve asked them to do the civil rights investigation that by law they are allowed to do and can do. I’m hoping it will happen at the same time.

Michael D. Graveley: (13:34)
That gives the community a chance to heal quicker because independent prosecuting agencies, the US Attorney’s office and the DA’s office can both make independent decisions about whether crimes can be charged either in federal court or in state court. That means we don’t have multiple decision points where there are new opportunities for people to be disappointed or enraged, or for there to be unrest that is about decisions that are being made.

Michael D. Graveley: (14:04)
So I’m hoping our community can heal. And I’m calling on the US Attorney’s office to do that. I want to thank the US attorney, Matt Krueger and his office for being a partner in this case, in the sense of providing assistance at each time in terms of federal authorities, being there for the Kenosha district attorney’s office specifically.

Michael D. Graveley: (14:26)
And certainly attorney general Josh Kaul and the DCI agency have been complete in their use of resources and their ability to assist our local community. So I thank you all for being here. These are difficult times and these are difficult and momentous decisions. We’re going to do the best job we possibly can. And we ask for your patience for the best investigation to also take place. Thank you.

Speaker 1: (14:59)
We’re joined today by some community leaders and two of them are going to be speaking to you. So first, Anthony Davis.

Anthony Davis: (15:13)
Good evening. My name’s Anthony Davis, local president of the NAACP here in Kenosha, and also a member of the Wisconsin State Conference where we’re being led by Wendell Jay Harris. First of all, I like to give my thoughts and prayers to the family of Jacob Blake. They’re going through a difficult time.

Anthony Davis: (15:51)
And as it is said, you have to give a family time to deal with these situations. We know a lot of folks are trying to get to them each and every day. But in these times, give them some time to heal. We know that this incident came to Kenosha unexpectedly.

Anthony Davis: (16:25)
And I just want to say Kenosha is not a place where we see things like this every day. We need to come together. And I appreciate the state DA Josh Kaul and our local DA here in Kenosha for coming to us and trying to share what they can at this time. The process, we know is not going to be one that’s going to be quick, but we know that we are part of the process here.

Anthony Davis: (17:12)
And we ask number one, have some patience. We also want everyone to understand we have to find a way to deescalate what has been happening around here in our city. As I said, we are in the process of trying to mourn through this, but the path that has been taken by some individuals has not been appreciated. Let us have our say as a community. Let us be patient and above all, let us keep God in the process. Thank you.

Speaker 1: (18:02)
All right. Next up we have James Hall.

James Hall: (18:09)
Good evening, everyone. I’m James Hall, the president and CEO of the Urban League of Racine and Kenosha. This is very difficult for this community. First of all, I would like to say the Urban League of Racine and Kenosha send our condolences to the two young men that lost their lives last night and our thought some prayers are with Jacob Blake.

James Hall: (18:48)
We ask that the protesters that are protesting, please respect and obey the curfew that’s been enforced so no one else gets hurt. Please respect the curfew that exists. Protest peacefully, but when it’s time for the curfew to be in effect, please respect that curfew. We can’t lose this moment.

James Hall: (19:19)
Right now Kenosha is emotional, right now the country is emotional. We cannot continue to meet force with force, let the people be hurt. Listen to the people. We don’t need all this aggression from either side. We must understand that black and brown folks are emotional people, always have been. That’s why we respect the sports that they play because they get the job done with internal…

James Hall: (20:03)
Respect sports that they play because they get the job done with internal emotions. But at the same time, we must understand that this eruption ,in our city is based on years and years and years of oppression. Years of oppression. What you see is a lot of pain, a lot of fear and a lot of trauma. Both sides are scared of both sides, because no one communicates to each other. We go to our subdivisions, we go to work and we go to our subdivision and we don’t even engage anymore with each other. That has to change. The time is now for change. We need to improve our systems and our environments across the board. Let me repeat that. We need to improve all our systems across the board, whether it’s the school district, whether it’s the police structure, not going to even call it a system, I’m going to call it a structure. What is happening now? No one has an idea of how to react, because there’s fear on both sides. Having armed people in our city, that’s all right. We understand that. But those people with guns that are militia, that aren’t engaging people, are not looking at them as people. They’re looking at these individuals, as I need to protect my property.

James Hall: (21:58)
Think about this. The property can be rebuilt. The lives cannot be rebuilt. Once a life is taken or destroyed, it can not be given back. There’s a possibility that this young man would never walk again. Think about that. Imagine your son, your daughter, your relative, experiencing trauma every day, pain every day, fear every single day. In this skin that I wear, In this skin that I wear and I carry myself well, I go through every day, every single time, every single time a car pull up behind me, that’s a law enforcement agency.

James Hall: (22:54)
I would like to bring this front and center. If you lived your life in trauma every day, how would you react? How would you feel? What would you do? The time is now for change. Let the community heal. Let them be emotional. Let them express themselves. But at the same time, when the expression is over, let’s not end the work. Let’s work with the communities. Let’s work with the people in the community to start changing. Change is now. If Kenosha can make this change, the entire country will follow. Thank you.

Josh Kaul: (23:44)
Thank you to Mr. Hall, thank you to Mr. Davis. Thank you to DA Graveley and thank you to the others who have joined us here today. With that, I want to open it up for questions.

Speaker 2: (23:55)
Attorney General, can you give an update, one, on how far you are in the investigation? Secondly, just on the process itself, when you want to have an independent investigation, would you refer the potential charges back over to the District Attorney in Kenosha County and not [inaudible 00:24:19]

Josh Kaul: (24:18)
Yeah. First of all, the investigation is moving quickly. We have conducted interviews of some of the material witnesses in this case, and that’s part of the reason we are able to provide the information that we provided today. But the investigation is still ongoing. What is critical from our perspective, is that while we want to move as quickly as we can, that we do so consistently, with a full and thorough investigation, so that what comes at the end of this process is based on a full and thorough investigation. Now, Wisconsin … Let me just finish the second part. Wisconsin law is set up so that there’s an independent investigating agency, so that agencies don’t investigate themselves.

Josh Kaul: (25:01)
But under Wisconsin law, primary prosecutorial authority is with the District Attorney. As DA Gravely mentioned, he has called for an outside prosecutorial review from the federal level as well. We’ll see what happens in that process.

Speaker 3: (25:18)
Have you interviewed the officers who shot Blake?

Josh Kaul: (25:20)
I can’t speak to the details about precisely who was interviewed. What I can say is that, many of the material witness interviews have taken place, and that’s why we can provide the information we are today.

Speaker 4: (25:32)
You mentioned that a knife was recovered from Mr. Blake. [inaudible 00:25:32] Was that knife ever observed by officers? In that tussle, was he ever given commands to drop the knife?

Josh Kaul: (25:43)
I can’t provide any further information about those details. The information that we provided, is based on information that we believe could be provided at this point, because it’s clear evidence and because of the interviews that have taken place, we aren’t concerned that it may impact subsequent interviews.

Speaker 5: (26:02)
Nearly half of [inaudible 00:26:03] doing anything to make body cameras more accessible?

Josh Kaul: (26:09)
I believe that the legislature, first of all, I believe that agencies that are conducting activities like tactical activities and patrol activities, should have body cameras. The challenge that a lot of agencies face, as you mentioned, is the cost. I think our legislature needs to step up and make sure that agencies have the funds they need to obtain body cameras for their officers.

Speaker 6: (26:41)
[inaudible 00:26:43]

Josh Kaul: (26:44)
Mr. Graveley, if he wanted to, could allow a special prosecutor to come in. That’s a decision that his office could make. That happens sometimes when there are conflicts with District Attorney’s offices, but generally speaking in Wisconsin, the primary prosecutorial authority is with the DA.

Speaker 7: (27:01)
Are you saying that Mr. Blake [inaudible 00:27:06]

Josh Kaul: (27:05)
I was just describing the information that we had, and so we can’t comment on any further information related to that.

Speaker 8: (27:16)
[But 00:27:16] Based on the release that you put out before, [inaudible 00:27:22]

Josh Kaul: (27:21)
What I’m saying is we are not going to be providing further information beyond what’s been provided so far about the details.

Speaker 9: (27:29)
[inaudible 00:27:29] to the initial incident, why was he tasered in the first place, and did he have the knife at that initial incident with officers? Did he have it later [inaudible 00:27:40]

Josh Kaul: (27:40)
Again, the information we’ve provided so far are straightforward facts that are, we believe going to be undisputed. So, we’re limiting the scope of what we’re providing to that information.

Speaker 10: (27:54)
It’s been a few years since [inaudible 00:28:03] investigation. Are there any other opportunities [inaudible 00:08:03].

Josh Kaul: (28:03)
Well, first, I think that having an independent investigative agency is a good policy. I think, I’m biased because I’m at DOJ, but I like to think that DCI is the preeminent law enforcement agency in the state of Wisconsin. I’m sure there are other agencies that would dispute that, but having top- notch investigators who handle a lot of these cases and are expert in investigating them, I think, is a good process.

Speaker 11: (28:37)
Mr. Attorney General, you say in your release that Blake admitted that he had a knife. [inaudible 00:28:40] after he was tasered, he told police officers about a knife?

Josh Kaul: (28:41)
As the release stated, he acknowledged that he had a knife in his possession at some point.

Speaker 12: (28:50)
[inaudible 00:28:50] decision that you have to make. How cognizant are you of time [inaudible 00:28:57]

Josh Kaul: (28:56)
We want to move as quickly as possible, but we were going to do that consistent with maintaining the integrity of this investigation. What’s critical, is that justice is done in this case. The best way to go about getting justice is to have a full and thorough and vigorous investigation.

Speaker 13: (29:18)
[inaudible 00:09:21].

Josh Kaul: (29:23)
We’re providing the information that we can, but this is also a case that is part of a legal process, and there may be facts as this case proceeds, that are in dispute or where it’s not clear, and we’re not going to be providing answers to questions that may later be the subject of dispute.

Speaker 14: (29:43)
The officer again [inaudible 00:29:46] That officer also, a part of the wider investigation?

Josh Kaul: (29:50)
We will be identifying the other officers who were involved soon. We’re going to continue providing information to the extent that we believe it’s appropriate and consistent with protecting the integrity of the investigation, so the information regarding the other-

Josh Kaul: (30:03)
Integrity of the investigation, so the information regarding the other officers who were present will be provided, their identities.

Speaker 15: (30:06)
The officer who fired the gun, is he in some kind of protective custody?

Josh Kaul: (30:11)
I don’t want to comment on the specifics regarding that officer. What I certainly think it is important to emphasize is that there is an investigative process underway being conducted by an independent agency that is taking this investigation very seriously and that is committed to doing it thoroughly and fully. And I ask that people allow that process to play out so that there is justice in this case.

Speaker 16: (30:36)
Has that officer ever been suspended before?

Josh Kaul: (30:39)
I can’t comment on any facts beyond the scope of what we’ve talked about.

Speaker 15: (30:42)
But that would be a public personnel matter, correct? Wouldn’t that be public if [inaudible 00:30:47]?

Josh Kaul: (30:47)
To the extent that there’s information in the public record, others can look to that. We provided some of the core information that, as I said, is essentially undisputed information.

Speaker 15: (30:56)
[inaudible 00:01:01].

Speaker 16: (30:58)
[inaudible 00:30:58] part of your investigation prior to [inaudible 00:31:03].

Josh Kaul: (31:02)
Our investigators look into the facts that the investigators on the ground determine are relevant to their investigation in assessing what the totality of the relevant circumstances are and that they believe will be helpful to the DA in making the charging decision in the case. And so I won’t comment on the specifics of particular details, but that’s the approach that they take.

Speaker 18: (31:26)
[inaudible 00:01:25].

Josh Kaul: (31:26)
DA Gravely, do you want to-

Michael D. Graveley: (31:28)
I couldn’t hear the question.

Josh Kaul: (31:29)
The question was if you had any comment about the suspect from the shooting last night.

Speaker 18: (31:33)
Can you provide any details or insight?

Michael D. Graveley: (31:36)
I can simply tell you that there will be some consideration of that case by the DA’s office tomorrow. So the individuals in custody in Illinois and the Kenosha district’s office will have to make some determinations about at least preliminary decisions about charges or holding him by the end of the day tomorrow.

Speaker 15: (32:00)
DA Gravely, I just have one more quick question for you.

Michael D. Graveley: (32:03)
I’m having trouble hearing you.

Speaker 15: (32:05)
One more question for you tied to what I was asking about the attorney general [inaudible 00:32:09]. Are you able to just give some background on what the typical relationship is between the attorney’s office [inaudible 00:32:15] and why you feel [inaudible 00:32:22] decision on whether to prosecute based upon your previous relationship.

Michael D. Graveley: (32:25)
Well, of course, we make decisions that are difficult decisions every day about sets of facts that tie us. So I can tell you that our office has no sort of personal relationship with this officer. He’s part of a police force that is several dozen people. And so there is no specific relationship with him that would be a close relationship. He’s a patrol officer. He’s not a detective who works intimately with us. He’s not management where he would be at meetings with us in that way. So he’s not a person who has a specific relationship with us more than any other officer would. And really the legislature has indicated that this is the appropriate way to proceed.

Michael D. Graveley: (33:11)
I think my guess is that the purpose there is that the local district attorney is the individual who should be the one who has to carry the weight of these kinds of difficult decisions. But I’m aware that the public will have some of the concerns that you’ve expressed. And that’s why I’ve asked the US attorney’s office because they have absolutely no connection to this law enforcement officer. They’re never going to have these officers for other cases. I’m having them do an independent determination that will be public. It will have no connection to my own. So there will be essentially a second opinion that’ll be offered on slightly different laws, but still important opinion by a different prosecuting agency. So that if there are people with that specific concern, we’ll have dealt with that directly.

Speaker 16: (33:55)
[inaudible 00:34:00], correct?

Michael D. Graveley: (34:00)
We prepared a warrant for him. So I don’t know the date of that warrant.

Speaker 16: (34:04)
[inaudible 00:34:08].

Michael D. Graveley: (34:08)
So I’m not going to try to add to the facts that have been provided by DCI. I’m trying to respect the investigating agency and let them be the ones who make decisions about what facts are available to you in that regard.

Speaker 19: (34:23)
Attorney general [inaudible 00:34:24] had a conversation with [inaudible 00:34:32].

Josh Kaul: (34:32)
I had a conversation with them briefly while I was on the way here, and the reception was spotty, frankly. So we weren’t able to have a lengthy conversation, but I had begun telling them just a little bit about how Wisconsin’s process works. I want to say I commend the Bucks and now all NBA teams that suspended their games today for stepping up and participating in the dialogue about these issues and making their voices known. The Bucks have frankly done more to address these issues than Robin Voss or Scott Fitzgerald have done. And so I applaud them for stepping up and playing a leadership role in the debate.

Speaker 19: (35:13)
Can you elaborate more on what [inaudible 00:35:15] arrest Mr. Floyd before?

Josh Kaul: (35:18)
I can’t provide any further information at this time.

Speaker 19: (35:21)
Will he end up being charged with anything?

Josh Kaul: (35:22)
I can’t comment on any other cases or charges either.

Speaker 16: (35:28)
Right now we’re all looking at ways we can approve, but [inaudible 00:35:35].

Josh Kaul: (35:31)
Yeah, I think there are a lot of things that we can do to improve. I mean, first of all, I think it’s really critical that we talk about systemic racism and the impact that that has had on all sorts of different facets of society. We see in our criminal justice system here as a lot of states do. Wisconsin has the highest rate of incarceration for black males of any state in the country. And to me, that is a clear evidence that we need to rethink the approach that we’re taking with our criminal justice system as a whole. I spent part of my career as a voting rights lawyer, challenging laws that made it more difficult for people to vote and disproportionately for minority voters to cast a ballot.

Josh Kaul: (36:24)
We have a lot of things about our system we can reform. At the Department of Justice I am proud of a lot of the work that we do that I think is a force for good when it comes to addressing systemic racism. That includes having thorough and full investigations in cases involving officer involved shootings. We have a missing and murdered indigenous women taskforce that we are working with indigenous communities to lead. There are a number of other ways as well where I’m proud of the work that we do, but I’ve also asked employees at DOJ to think about what we can do better so that we are working to fight systemic racism. And at the state level, there are a number of policy changes that we can make.

Josh Kaul: (37:02)
I’ve called for several, including reforming our bail system, giving civil rights enforcement authority to our department of justice, having a hate crime hotline, passing legislation, which is supported by law enforcement that would prohibit agencies from sealing disciplinary records when officers are separated from their agencies. There are a lot of steps we can be taking and so I’m glad that the governor called a special session. I hope that it is taken seriously by the legislature and that they actually debate these issues that they hear from the citizens of Wisconsin, rather than closing down debate so that we can make real progress.

Speaker 17: (37:44)
This is the last one.

Speaker 16: (37:44)
[inaudible 00:37:45].

Josh Kaul: (37:44)
So one of the things that I think is critical that we do is that we assess the types of cases that are being brought. For example, enforcing cases. One of the things that I think is important in enforcement is to target large scale criminal activity, rather than lots of cases of low-level criminal activity. I think that’s better for public safety because you get at the root of the problem and can dismantle a drug trafficking organization or identify somebody who’s committed a violent crime, rather than having a number of low level arrests. When it comes to enforcing laws that impact people, there are a lot of cases involving, for example, petty theft in Wisconsin, but there aren’t nearly so many cases enforcing laws involving wage theft or unsafe working conditions, enforcing those laws so that we have a level playing field and we don’t have disparities in the types of crimes being enforced is one of the ways we can improve.

Speaker 17: (38:40)
All right. Thanks, guys.

Josh Kaul: (38:41)
Thank you.