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Town of Beloit plans to release police records

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ANN MARIE AMES
July 16, 2009
— Town of Beloit administration on July 24 plans to release to the Gazette copies of documents created in an investigation of Police Chief John Wilson.

Similar documents created in an investigation of two employees could be released in early August, Administrator Bob Museus said.


Museus on June 30 disciplined two people following an investigation of three people by the Rock County Sheriff’s Office. Museus in February requested the sheriff’s office help with the investigation.


The two people who were disciplined still are employed with the town’s police department, Museus said.


A resident’s complaint sparked the investigation, he said.


The Gazette requested the investigative records through the Wisconsin Open Records Law.


State law requires municipalities to notify employees when their records are requested.


Museus has sent letters to the three, he said.


Employees have the right to block the release of the records. They have 15 days to do so, which is why those records could be released in early August, Museus said.


But, as the police chief and a department head, Wilson is not an “employee,” he is a public official, according to state law.


That means he is not allowed to block the release of the records. However, he is allowed to augment the records by adding information, according to state law.


A similar request by the Gazette went to Walworth County Court in March. In that case, village of Darien Police Chief Steve DeVoy tried to block the release of documents from the village to the Gazette.


Judge Robert Kennedy ruled that the documents were open to the public because, as a department head, DeVoy did not have the right to block the release.


This is not the first time Wilson has been investigated.


In February, Museus reprimanded Wilson in writing. Wilson was required to take a counseling or sensitivity program, according to a copy of a report the Gazette obtained at that time about a different investigation.


According to a complaint filed in December, Wilson had used racial slurs in the department. That investigation followed a complaint filed by Teamsters Union Local 695, which represents the police officers and clerks.


Wilson has worked for the town of Beloit since 2003. He retired as the Bollingbrook, Ill., police chief in 1997.



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