Palmer tapped as temporary police chief
The town has tapped Sgt. Laura Palmer as temporary chief to replace former Chief John Wilson, who on Monday announced his immediate retirement.
The town board within the next couple weeks could appoint an interim chief to lead the department while the town conducts an "open and quality" search for a new, full-time chief, Administrator Bob Museus said.
Museus does not expect the town will seek applicants for the interim chief position but more likely will find someone in the area to take the position.
"Typically, you find somebody locally," Museus said.
Wilson hired Palmer in August. Palmer has more than 23 years of police experience and 12 years in supervision, according to a news release from the police department. She has a master's degree in criminal justice from UW-Platteville and a bachelor's degree in business management.
Palmer is a graduate of the Northwestern School of Police Staff and Command in Evanston, Ill. Before joining the town of Beloit department, she worked for the city of Beloit department.
Museus said he wasn't surprised that Wilson wanted to retire, but he was surprised by the suddenness of the decision, he said.
Wilson has been the subject of a long series of complaints and accusations. The most recent are five lawsuits pending in federal court against Wilson and the town. The suits claim Wilson made racist remarks in the workplace and retaliated against employees who spoke out against his behavior.
Wilson was disciplined in 2009 after a union complaint about his actions led to an investigation.
Wilson's behavior garnered a lot of attention recently when one of the attorneys for plaintiffs in the federal lawsuits posted a video on YouTube of Wilson admitting during a deposition that he used the "n" word at work.
"There is no doubt John's language was inappropriate," Museus said. "This all has put a great deal of stress on John."
The town does not have a retirement contract with Wilson that details severance pay or benefits, Museus said. Nor did the town create such an agreement when Wilson was hired, Museus said.
Museus said the town and Wilson could create such a document soon.
For now, Wilson will get nothing more than his final paycheck and is considered to be in retirement, Museus said.
"There has been some talk of a settlement agreement to kind of dot the "i" and to cover John's best interest and the town's best interest," Museus said.
Museus said Wilson's decision to retire was not part of an agreement to settle the federal lawsuits.
Attorney Anne Sulton agreed.
Sulton is the attorney who posted the video. She said her clients are not interested in a settlement and will continue to seek retribution for Wilson's behavior.
Wilson is being sued as an individual as well as an employee of the town, so the fact that he has retired doesn't change anything, Sulton said.
"We're going to continue to hold Mr. Wilson accountable for his continued illegal behavior," Sulton said.
Sulton said her clients also are calling for the town to fire Museus for not firing Wilson.