By Shereen Siewert | Wausau Pilot & Review
A law firm’s independent investigation into allegations against Everest Metro Police Chief Clay Schulz raised concerns regarding his performance and recommends future monitoring, according to documents released as part of an open records request.
An Aug. 7 memorandum, released this week to Wausau Pilot & Review, outlines the circumstances that led to the investigation and reveal sharp divisions within the department. In October, the Joint Police Commission declined to file formal charges against Schulz after an outside investigation by the von Briesen & Roper law firm concluded the chief’s actions did not rise to the level of “legally-actionable harassment” as defined by department policy.
But the firm pointed out several issues with Schulz’s conduct and said his behavior was “highly unprofessional.”
Staff members at the EMPD described the chief as dismissive and insecure, and pointed to a range of examples about his conduct including an instance where Schulz allegedly berated a potential victim involved in a separate department investigation.
One main theme of concern, the report states, is that Schulz “needs to improve his communication.” The firm recommends Schulz be directed to comply with three directives: Be mindful of how he interacts with other employees, attend professional development opportunities and attend a reflection session with the complainant who prompted the investigation.
“If Schulz does not correct these concerns which have been brought to his attention though this investigation, and if similar concerns about Schulz continued to be reported by Department staff, then additional action by the District may be warranted in the future,” the report concludes.
Wausau Pilot sent an email early this week to Dave Eisenreich, president of the Joint Everest Metro Police Commission, asking how officials will ensure Schulz complies and how progress will be measured. Rise rich did not respond as of Friday afternoon.
The firm recommends all employees of the department attend professional development opportunities “related to navigating and promoting an inclusive workplace culture.”
Schulz remained on duty throughout the investigation, prompting concern from state law enforcement officials. Typically, officers are placed on administrative leave when an investigation is underway. That didn’t happen in Schulz’s case, and officials so far have declined to comment on why.
Schulz did not respond to an invitation to comment for this story.
Officials faced strong criticism for their failure to place Schulz on leave while the matter was investigated.
Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, wrote to members of the commission on Sept. 14 urging them to do so. Palmer, on behalf of the WPPA, also requested that Schulz be restricted from entering or accessing department facilities while the matter remained under investigation.
Those are “same protective measures that would apply to any rank-and-file officer charged with the same type of misconduct,” Palmer said. These types of actions protect the integrity of the PFC, the complainants, and the officer that is the subject of the complaint as well, he added.
That action was never taken.
The investigation comes amid a lawsuit the department continues to battle. A former Everest Metro Police captain is suing the department in an effort to keep records surrounding misconduct allegations from being released to the public.
John Rusinek, who was employed by EMPD since February 2007, resigned in July. At the time of his resignation, Rusinek was operations captain. He sued the department on Sept. 6.
According to court documents, Rusinek was at the center of an alleged misconduct investigation but resigned before any disciplinary process could begin. After his resignation, the department received an open records request seeking all complaints and investigative material related to Rusinek. EMPD granted the request Aug. 22 and informed Rusinek, who had 10 days under state law to file action seeking a court order to prevent the disclosure.
Efforts to obtain those records by Wausau Pilot have so far been rejected on the grounds that the investigation is not yet complete. the case is working its way through the court system.