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Senate takes up bills aimed at law enforcement

Bills related to drones, strip searches

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin State Senate is taking up a number of bills Tuesday related to law enforcement dealing with topics like drones and strip searches.

Senate approves bill limiting DNA collection

A more limited bill dealing with when DNA samples are collected from people under arrest has been passed by the Wisconsin state Senate.

The measure originally called for collecting DNA from anyone arrested for a felony. But the latest version approved Tuesday would restrict collection only to those people arrested for violent felonies like rape and assault.

It previously cleared the Assembly and now goes to Gov. Scott Walker.

The DNA collection law takes effect in April 2015. It also will require DNA to be taken from anyone convicted of misdemeanors. Current law requires DNA collection only from convicted felons and sex offenders.

The DNA collected would go straight to the state crime lab, rather than be kept by local police.

Senate passes expansion of gunshot sensor system

The Milwaukee Police Department's gunshot sensor system is one step closer to expanding.

The state Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that would give the department $175,000 in state aid to expand the ShotSpotter program, a system of audio sensors that captures the sound of gunshots and transmits their location to officers.

The system currently covers 3 square miles. Police want to use the state money and a matching $175,000 in the Milwaukee County budget to cover 10 square miles.

The Assembly passed the bill overwhelmingly in February. The Senate's unanimous vote passing the bill now sends it to Gov. Scott Walker.

Senate passes police investigations bill

The state Senate has passed a bill that would require Wisconsin police departments to use outside investigators to probe officer-involved deaths.

The Assembly passed the bill in February. The Senate approved it on a voice vote Tuesday, the last day of the two-year legislative session. The measure now heads to Gov. Scott Walker.

The bill comes in the wake of several high-profile officer involved deaths across the state in recent years. Supporters say it will alleviate concerns about investigators from the same department covering up their friends' misconduct.

Smaller departments routinely rely on outside agencies to investigate officer-involved deaths. But the state's two biggest departments, Madison and Milwaukee, investigate their own officers.

Senate passes bill restricting drones

The use of unmanned drones for surveillance would be restricted under a bill that has passed the Wisconsin state Senate.

The bipartisan measure approved Tuesday on a voice vote would outlaw deploying a drone capable of making video or audio recordings in areas where people have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

It also would require police to obtain warrants before using drones to collect evidence except in emergency situations. It also would make it a felony to sell, possess or operate a weaponized drone.

The bill has previously passed the Assembly and now heads to Gov. Scott Walker.

Senate passes bill to expand strip searches

The state Senate has approved a bill that would expand jailhouse strip searches.

Current Wisconsin law allows jailors to conduct strip searches if an inmate has been arrested for a felony or a number of different misdemeanors. The Republican bill passed Tuesday would permit them to strip search anyone who will be locked up with other prisoners.

Supporters say the change would create safer jails. Opponents have complained the bill would allow children to be strip searched and open the door to abuses.

The Assembly amended the bill in February to exclude children and make the searches visual unless touching is necessary. The Senate passed it 18-14.

The measure now heads to Gov. Scott Walker.

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