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“Wisconsin has good ideas:” East coast efforts to implement law from badger state

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NEW JERSEY/WISCONSIN (WITI) -- Wisconsin was the first to do it, and now the badger state might have some company. A New Jersey lawmaker has written a bill that is based on Wisconsin's Act 348, which calls for an outside agency to investigate police-involved deaths.

"I think it's a lot of validation, I mean people just aren't accepting those pat answers we used to get before," said Michael Bell, pushed for police oversight bill.

Next month, Bell will fly to New Jersey and meet with a lawmaker who's looking to pass a police oversight bill similar to the one Scott Walker signed into Wisconsin law this past spring.

Bell's son was killed by Kenosha Police in 2004. After settling with the city for nearly $2 million, Bell launched an ad campaign pushing for independent investigations of police shootings.

"This is not some crazy liberal program. I'm a municipal prosecutor and I understand police have a tough job but I think this actually benefits them by having an independent investigator whenever there's a fatality," said Reed Gusciora, Democrat New Jersey Assemblyman.

Gusciora is looking to bring a similar law to the east coast.

"I have a crack staff that reads newspapers and scours good ideas and Wisconsin has good ideas," said Gusciora.

Gusciora's bill calls for, "two independent persons to investigate an act or mission by a police officer, which directly results in the death of an individual." Those individuals must be, "employed by the county prosecutor of a county other than where the fatal incident occurred."

"It meant a lot. Essentially, I had to explain it like this: if we've given law officers the power to take a life instantaneously, shouldn't we be doing everything possible to make sure that power is not that misused? And he got it, immediately," said Bell.

Gusciora thinks Bell's visit can help him win over other lawmakers.

"I think any time you can get publicity for the legislation itself and assure wary legislators other states have done this, it helps out.

Bell says he would like to see two additions to the Wisconsin law. He wants officers involved in deadly incidents to take a drug test.

He also wants the state to create an independent panel that would review all police-involved deaths in Wisconsin.