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August 2014

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Village will explain Rahn suspension

Village officials said they will reveal in about two weeks the reasons why Police Officer Chad Rahn has been placed on a 20-day suspension. But first, they said, they must go through a state-required legal process.

Administrator Kayla Chadwick said that under state law, Police Chief David Wentlandt must notify Rahn that the village has received an open-records request from the Sussex Sun regarding his suspension. Rahn will have 12 days to decide whether to ask the Waukesha County Circuit Court to block the release of the information regarding his suspension.

If Rahn does not challenge the information, it will be released to the Sun and anyone else who has filed an open-records request on the matter, she said.

Robert Drepps, a lawyer for the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, said Wisconsin courts have seldom blocked open-records requests regarding the suspensions of public employees.

The Sun filed the open-records request about two weeks ago. Chadwick initially indicated that the village would not comply with the request because it involved documents pertaining to village personnel.

When later advised that the state law required the release of the information, she turned the matter over to the police chief.

Chadwick said the village would eventually comply with the request in an email and interview after the deadline for publication of last week's Sussex Sun.

Chadwick had earlier explained that Rahn's suspension would be served periodically on individual days, rather than during 20 consecutive days.

The reason, according to Chadwick, was a shortage of officers on duty. There are two other officers currently off duty. One of the officers in on paternity leave, and Lt. Brian Pergande continues to serve on paid administrative leave as a result of the Waukesha County Sheriff's Department's internal investigation into the Butler Police Department a year ago.

Rahn received a three-day suspension, and two other officers received written reprimands as a result of the investigation.

The investigation cited most of the village's seven-member department for various acts of misconduct, including watching pornography on village computers, displaying sexist and racist attitudes, and improper personal use of the state and federal law-enforcement network.

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