Damakant Jayshi

The Police and Fire Commission on Monday ordered an outside investigation into a complaint against Wausau Police officers over what officials describe as “a very sensitive and difficult matter.”

An outside law enforcement agency will investigate the matter and submit a report to the Commission, chair William Harris said.

The matter relates to a complaint filed by a Wausau mother, but details are unclear. Wausau Pilot & Review requested a copy of the complaint or details surrounding the issue from Commission Chair William Harris and City Attorney Anne Jacobson, but no information has yet been received. Compounding the issue, an outside attorney engaged by the Commission, Samuel C. Hall, Jr. said the complaint is not yet public record. Hall, an attorney with Crivello Carlson, S.C., in Milwaukee, said sharing details could “potentially compromise the investigation.”

The agenda item in question reads: Closed Session Pursuant to Wis. Stat.19.85(1)(f) for Preliminary Consideration, Investigation and Deliberation Related to Citizen Complaint of A.F.

“Obviously this is a very sensitive and difficult matter and we realize that for the individuals who are here regarding this matter,” Harris said in open session. A closed session was held to discuss the matter.

Commission member Michael Loy moved to dismiss “the Dec. 21, 2021 complaint” against Wausau Police Chief Benjamin Bliven under Section 3.03A of the Police and Fire Commission procedures since it “does not allege or contain any violation of police department policies or rules.” That motion passed unanimously. 

This section, under Citizen Complaint Procedures, deals with dismissing a complaint against police and fire chiefs and officers. “If upon initial review the Complaint is determined to be frivolous, does not evince a violation of Department policy or rules, if the complaint appears to have been filed with malice or ill-intent, or if reasonable cause does not exist for further investigation, then the PFC may vote to dismiss a Complaint without further investigation.”

But Loy also moved to have other police officers involved in the incident be investigated further.

“I move to refer that the December 21, 2021 complaint of A.F. and all of its attachments as it relates to all officers other than chief Benjamin Bliven to the chief of police to conduct further investigation and further direct that chief Bliven utilize an outside law enforcement agency to investigate the complaint and provide an update or final report by our next meeting,” Loy said in his motion, which was also approved unanimously. The next meeting is March 28.

In case of a dismissal, the complainant must be provided with a reason for the dismissal in writing. The complainant has 30 days to appeal for PFC’s review “based upon additional relevant information not available at the time the original complaint is filed.”

Harris referred questions to outside council.

Once the outside law enforcement agency submits its report, the commission will provide opportunities to the “mother of the child to be heard as well as the police department before we make our final consideration.”