Janesville46.4°

Town of Beloit reprimands its police chief

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ANN MARIE AMES
July 25, 2009
— The town of Beloit police chief has been issued a letter of reprimand for talking to a member of the public about an ongoing investigation.

Administrator Bob Museus on June 30 wrote the letter to Chief John Wilson, according to documents that the Gazette obtained through the Wisconsin Open Records Law.


Wilson has “no independent recollection of mentioning that investigation to (the member of the public), but he does recall speaking to her in the circumstances (the member of the public) has described,” according to a memo from town attorney Alan Leavy to Museus.


The member of the public is an acquaintance of the chief’s family whom he met at a restaurant to talk about a personal matter at her request, the memo states.


Town officials blackened all names other than Wilson’s before releasing the document to the Gazette.


Museus did not think Wilson deliberately disclosed the information, but Wilson needs to be aware of the importance of the confidentiality of his work, the letter of reprimand stated.


The letter will be in Wilson’s personnel file for six months.


In early June, the Rock County Sheriff’s Office finished an internal investigation into the department. The investigation had begun at Museus’ request.


According to the new documents obtained by the Gazette, a town of Beloit police officer contacted a private citizen and talked about the sheriff’s office investigation.


The sheriff’s office report turned up some information that sparked two more investigations, Museus said.


The Gazette still is waiting to get copies of the reports from those investigations. Museus notified three people that documents had been requested.


The three, including the chief, were the subjects of the investigation.


Wisconsin law allows public employees to contest the release of investigative documents to the public or the media. If the employee does not object, the records will be turned over to the Gazette on Aug. 4, town Clerk Karry DeVault said.


Wilson did not have the right to contest the release of the documents because the law considers him a department head rather than an employee.


The law did give Wilson the right to augment the documents, but it did not appear he did so.


The Gazette was unable to reach Wilson for comment Friday afternoon.


This is not the first time Wilson has been reprimanded in his tenure as police chief.


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 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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