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Take two: Commission will meet again to pick top cop

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Stacy Vogel
December 15, 2007
— The Milton Police Commission wants a do-over to appoint an interim police chief after Chief Thomas Gilland announced his impending retirement.

The commission held a meeting Thursday after the city received a letter from Gilland announcing his intention to retire Jan. 7. At the meeting, the commission appointed former police Chief Terry Hawkins as interim chief until a new chief is found.


But the commission failed to notify the city and the public about the meeting.


That makes the meeting illegal, City Clerk/Treasurer Nancy Zastrow said. Wisconsin’s open meetings law requires government bodies to post agendas at least 24 hours in advance.


Typically, the police chief works with the department’s clerical staff to post police commission meeting notices, said Mike Haas, Milton city attorney. But the commission hasn’t met in more than a year, and the clerical employee who usually posted meetings resigned several months ago.


“It’s unfortunately one of those things that fell through the cracks, and we’ve talked to the police commission chair and the city staff to make sure that doesn’t happen again,” he said.


The city didn’t know about the meeting until the commission notified it of its intention to hire Hawkins as interim chief, Haas said.


Because Thursday’s meeting was invalid, the commission members will meet again at 7:30 a.m. Tuesday.


“I anticipate they’ll probably make the same decision,” Haas said.


If they do, the city council will discuss terms for Hawkins’ employment in closed session at its meeting Tuesday night, he said.


Hawkins resigned in January 2005 after 14 years as the city’s police chief. Gilland, a 29-year veteran of the department, was appointed to replace him later that year after serving as interim chief.


In that instance, the police commission hired a private firm to search for the chief’s replacement. The process took more than three months, Haas said, and five months passed before Gilland was appointed.


Gilland said he is resigning for personal reasons. He enjoyed the work and will miss his co-workers, he wrote in his letter to the city.


“I’ve had a blast,” he said.



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