City committee to take up resolution banning police use of tear gas

Madison Tear Gas

MADISON, Wis. — The Madison Common Council’s Executive Committee will take up a proposal Tuesday that would ban the use of tear gas and require the Madison Police Department to come up with an alternative.

The resolution being sponsored by Alders Patrick Heck, Shiva Bidar, Keith Furman and Marsha Rummel would ban the MPD’s use of tear gas by November 17, 2020 and have the department put together a study on alternatives, due to the council by October 20, 2020.

The resolution notes the use of tear gas has been banned in war since the UN Geneva Protocol of 1925, and cites possible long-term health effects, such as making people more susceptible to getting the flu, pnuemonia or COVID-19.

According to the resolution, the Madison Police Department spent $3,600 on chemical sprays in 2019, noting costs fluctuate based on usage.

The council wants the department to study its use of tear gas and provide a history of the department’s use of tear gas from 1990 up to August 1, 2020, along with justifications for its use and determinations on how effective it was.

The council also wants the department to look into other de-escalation alternatives, including any recommendations made by a third-party analysis of the department’s actions during protests in downtown Madison following the death of George Floyd.

In an interview with News 3 Now This Morning’s Chris Stanford, Acting Chief Vic Wahl said he felt the department’s use of tear gas during crowd control was “conservative,” noting the level of property destruction and what he described as the level of aggression toward officers and other members of the community.

The resolution is being proposed during the Executive Committee’s public meeting starting at 4:30 p.m.