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September 2014

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Officer set to bring charges against chief

Commission to look at issue again on Feb. 13

Town of Mukwonago - The town Police Commission last week began wrestling with the possibility of charges against Police Chief Tom Czarnecki and Sgt. Eric Schmidt.

Police Officer Chris Heckman filed a document with commission Chairman Karl Miller which prompted the discussions. While it was unclear whether the document actually constituted a formal complaint, Heckman indicated to the commission that he was seeking charges against Czarnecki for allegedly providing monetary rewards to officers for issuing citations or making arrests.

Calling the proceedings "very serious," Town Attorney John Macy said that he and Miller read Heckman's lengthy document, but were unclear as to whether Heckman was actually bringing charges against Czarnecki and Schmidt. Heckman said that his complaint includes Schmidt, but did not specify what Schmidt is alleged to have done.

The steps to take the matter to a formal hearing required Heckman's document to indicate which state statute had been violated. The document did not include that information. Heckman has 30 days to prepare an amendment adding that information. The matter is slated to go back to the commission Feb. 13.

Heckman also claims Czarnecki placed him off duty as a disciplinary action and forced him to use sick pay and holiday pay while not working.

According to Dan Vliet, Czarnecki's attorney, Czarnecki did not discipline Heckman as stated. Instead, Heckman was not working because of an issue with his hearing, since Heckman wears hearing aids, which necessitated a hearing test, he said.

Vliet said there was "no unpaid suspension," and maintained that Heckman was placed on sick leave and then paid administrative leave for the safety of the department while they try to get the necessary hearing tests done.

But Heckman argued that this was a disciplinary action against him.

"According to them, I have been paid the entire time. I have been forced to use sick and holiday time to get paid," Heckman told the commission. "I am using my benefit time because they have decided they don't want me to work."

The document was not made available to other members of the commission or the public. The Mukwonago Chief has filed an open-records request seeking a copy of the document.

Once it is determined that the matter will go to a formal hearing, Macy said all commission members will receive a copy of the document to review.

The police commission is scheduled to meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 13 at the Mukwonago Town Hall.

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