Janesville60.5°

Ex-chief files lawsuits against town chairman, police commission

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Kayla Bunge
August 2, 2008
— Former town Police Chief Andrew Mayer is suing town Chairman Wayne Polzin and the town’s police and fire commission because of an investigation into his behavior and his subsequent termination in October.

In separate lawsuits filed July 24 in Walworth County Court, Mayer alleges:


-- Polzin knowingly made false and malicious statements with the intent of harming Mayer, and his conduct resulted in Mayer’s termination.


-- The police and fire commission violated the statutory requirements for terminating a police officer.


Mayer’s attorney, Thomas Halloran, said Mayer “doesn’t really harbor any ill will toward anyone.


“He feels his rights were violated,” he said.


Mayer served as police chief from 1999 until he was fired “without cause” by the police and fire commission in October.


His employment was brought into question in August 2007, when Polzin “authorized” town attorney Steve Wassel to investigate “unspecified allegations of misconduct” against Mayer. The investigation revealed no misconduct and no reason to fire Mayer, according to the lawsuit.


The police and fire commission voted in closed session Oct. 3 to terminate Mayer without cause at the “initiation and insistence” of Polzin, according to the lawsuit.


Mayer did not receive notice of the charges against him, nor was he afforded the right to a hearing, the right to retain an attorney or the right to subpoena witnesses to testify on his behalf, as is required by state statute, according to the lawsuit.


In March, Polzin requested Walworth County District Attorney Phil Koss investigate allegations of misconduct against Mayer, including theft, misconduct in officer, obstructing an officer and impersonating a police officer. Koss found no misconduct and said he would not pursue charges against Mayer, according to the lawsuit.


“I’m concerned that the credibility of these charges would be tainted by the appearance of politics,” Koss wrote in a letter to Polzin.


Halloran said Polzin interfered with Mayer’s employment.


“The town board and police and fire commission wouldn’t have taken action unless he had gone to them and said, ‘We need to get rid of Andy,’” Halloran said. “This didn’t come out of the blue. There wasn’t a groundswell of support to terminate Andy Mayer.”


Mayer is seeking monetary and punitive damages.


The Janesville Gazette was not able to reach Polzin for comment Friday.


Tom Brauer, chairman of the police and fire commission, and Carol Ancevic and Maria Odling, members of the commission named in the lawsuit, declined to comment.



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