Damakant Jayshi

Four days after dismissing a complaint against Wausau Police Chief Ben Bliven and ordering an outside investigation of other officers named in a complaint that has yet to be released publicly, the Police and Fire Commission made an identical decision at its special meeting Friday.

The commission, after holding a closed session discussion, repeated in open session what it did on Monday over a similar complaint but fled by another person: dismissed the complaint against Bliven as “unsubstantiated and unfounded” and ordered that Bliven and an outside law enforcement agency conduct an investigation against Wausau officers named in the complaint over what officials describe as “a very sensitive and difficult matter.”

The issue centers on a complaint filed against Bliven and other police officers by a Wausau mother, but details are so far murky. She will have 30 days to appeal the PFC decision by providing additional information to the group.

On Monday, the PFC said it would next meet on March 28, by when the commission was to receive the investigation report or an update on the Dec. 21, 2021 complaint.

“Today’s meeting was about the other person who was involved with the complaint of the first person,” Amy Lund, from the Wausau Police records department, told Wausau Pilot & Review. The meeting was attended by PFC Chair William Harris, and members Michael Loy and William Graef. Cheryl Bahr and Kathy Strasser did not attend Friday’s discussion.

Despite Wausau Pilot & Review’s repeated requests for more information, both the Police and Fire Commission and Wausau Police Department are so far keeping a tight lid on details surrounding the complaint. 

PFC Chair William Harris did not respond to Wausau Pilot & Review’s request for information. But Bliven did reply, explaining that the department is willing to share information on the investigation that led to the citizen complaint “as that investigation has been closed.” However, citing a high volume of records requests, the department officer handling such requests said it would take approximately three weeks before the investigative file could be released. Routine records requests are taking far longer than in past years, due in part to Marathon County’s redaction rules that apply to the department.

Bliven said the actual complaint filed with the Commission is so far subject to the PFC’s closed session rules and cannot yet be released. State law requires confidentiality during PFC personnel and employment investigations and protects those records from disclosure.