Clinton police chief to give up job as village administrator
CLINTON -- Clinton's police chief said recent controversy has led him to decide to step down from his part-time job as village administrator.
Chief David Hooker told The Gazette on Wednesday the move stems from recent controversy surrounding the police department. A number of business owners have complained police have been overzealous in traffic enforcement, and that's keeping customers away.
At least one of those criticizing how Hooker runs the police department have also questioned whether Hooker's two jobs present a conflict of interests.
Hooker said he has done nothing wrong, but: “It seems to have become such a distraction that I'm just really unable to be effective anymore. It seems like this whole thing went from being about the police department to becoming more personally focused against me.”
Hooker said personal attacks against him also figured in his decision: “I felt I just no longer needed that. I'm hoping that by stepping down, this will go away, will make people happy ... I'm content and satisfied to be police chief.”
His last day as village administrator will be Dec. 31.
“This will give (the board) the opportunity to bring somebody else in, and hopefully the business community will work with them, and they can start moving Clinton forward,” on issues that include a housing shortage, declining population and business development, he said.
Hooker took the administrator job without additional compensation in 2016. After a year, the village board decided to pay him $17,000 a year for the part-time position, according to a board press release.
Holding both posts is legal under Wisconsin statutes, according to the release prepared by the board's attorney, Brooke Joos. The board controls spending and other key decisions, and neither the chief nor the administrator can make significant decisions without board approval, the release states.
“We, the village board members, are independent in our thinking and vote based exclusively on what is best for the community and not what one single group or individual wishes,” the release states.
The board said it has reviewed accusations and found “no real evidence to substantiate some citizens' positions that the police department harassed community members and the public at large.”
The board found that the village has a problem with too many people violating speed and intoxicated-driving laws, however, the release states.
The board invited community members to its meetings to discuss the problem.
Hooker said his officers have written 18 intoxicated-driving citations so far this year.
“For a town this size that's quite a bit,” he said.
Officers also issued 31 speeding tickets, most of those this summer when extra officer hours were reimbursed by the state in return for extra speed enforcement, especially on two major roads that transect the village, County X and Highway 140, Hooker said.
Many Rock County departments accepted the same grant, Hooker noted.
Clinton hadn't requested the grant in the past because it didn't have two up-to-date squad cars or the staffing to do the enforcement, he said.
Speed was a concern for the DeLong Co., a major employer, because employees had to cross Highway 140 on foot from a parking lot and for DeLong trucks turning onto the highway, Hooker said.
The village has more of a speeding problem than he had thought, based on the summer's results, Hooker said.
“People in town said people are driving a lot slower and a lot more cautious than they used to, which in the end is what were looking for,” Hooker said.