Cuba City police officer awaits judge’s decision after chief asks her to resign

Officer Jackson is being charged with insubordination & neglect of duty
Published: Mar. 5, 2021 at 1:04 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 5, 2021 at 4:46 PM CST
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CUBA CITY, Wis. (WMTV) - A Cuba City police officer is waiting to hear from a judge on whether she will keep her job, after the police chief asked for her resignation.

The small department is made up of just four officers, including Chief Terrence Terpstra, and a K9.

On Thursday, a disciplinary hearing was held virtually to hear arguments and testimony from Cuba City Police Officer Kimberly Jackson and Chief Terpstra. Chief Terpstra is charging Officer Kimberly Jackson, an officer of two years with the department, with insubordination and neglect of duty.

This stems from an incident following an emergency detention transport of a subject from Cuba City to Madison. Officer Jackson and Officer Nathan Kennicker made the transport of a subject in the early morning hours of December 10, 2020. The transport resulted in 11 hours of overtime being charged to the city.

Chief Terpstra said he felt the situation did not warrant two officers and said one officer would have sufficed because, as he understood, the subject was not combative. He also felt this would have helped avoid overtime. Chief Terpstra noted that the department’s overtime budget is very limited.

When Officer Jackson returned to work for her next shift, in the afternoon of December 10th, Chief Terpstra confronted her about the transport and the overtime she and Officer Kennicker clocked.

“I made the comment of ‘I have a bone to pick with you’,” said Chief Terpstra. He then said Officer Jackson responded with, “yeah I’m well aware and I’m not very happy about it, that you wouldn’t choose safety over overtime.”

Chief Terrence Terpstra, Cuba City Police Department, appears virtually for hearing
Chief Terrence Terpstra, Cuba City Police Department, appears virtually for hearing(WMTV)

Officer Jackson explained that she and Officer Kennicker decided to go together on the transport for their safety and for the subject’s safety. She noted that the camera inside her patrol vehicle is broken, so she is unable to keep watch of subjects while she is driving. She also said that on other occasions, during long over-night drives, she has had trouble staying awake at the wheel.

“While we were at the hospital we had talked and, because the camera doesn’t work in the back of the truck, and because Nathan would feel comfortable transferring this female, we had decided since we were going so far away, that we would transport together,” said Officer Jackson.

Officer Kennicker appeared in the hearing for questioning. He said that he and Officer Jackson decided to go together, so that they could help keep each other awake during the long drive, among other safety precautions.

Officer Kennicker indicated that he and Officer Jackson had called Chief Terpstra to ask if they should both go on the transport, but he did not answer.

Chief Terpstra claimed that during his conversation with Officer Jackson, she said “if you expect me to do transports by myself, maybe this isn’t the job for me.” Chief Terpstra said he responded, “there’s times you’re going to have to do transports by yourself, so then this may not be the job for you.”

Officer Jackson denies saying this and denies saying that she would never do transports alone, but that in this circumstance she and Officer Kennicker felt it best that they go together.

Officer Jackson became upset during the confrontation with Chief Tepstra, saying “I felt sick to my stomach. I had like an overwhelming feeling of like I just wanted to get out of there. I just didn’t feel safe and I just was like shutting down.”

She then clocked out and left her shift early. “I could tell visually she was very mad by what took place in that conversation, that she did not like what I had to say,” told Chief Terpstra.

Chief Terpstra said she left without permission and that “my interpretation was that she was walking out on her job, that she was quitting.” Chief Terpstra added that he did not attempt to stop Chief Jackson as she was leaving or speak to her any further that day.

The prosecution argued that Officer Jackson was made aware that leaving her shift without being properly relieved could result in termination, through an employee handbook and list of policies that are available to officers inside the department’s office.

Officer Jackson said she had never seen, or been told about, the two specific policies that she is being accused of violating.

She said she left work after their argument, because she did not feel mentally or physically fit for duty. She cited a different policy, that she was aware of prior to the incident, that states “if you’re not fit for duty, it would be against the policy to stay.”

Chief Terpstra said he called Officer Jackson the next day, December 11th, and left a voicemail. In the voicemail, he asked for her resignation or he would seek termination.

“I’m seeking her termination, because I can’t trust that if she doesn’t get into a difficult situation or something that she’s upset with that she just won’t walk away from her duties or her job,” said Chief Terpstra.

Officer Jackson responded, “I think that this was a pretty unique situation, I haven’t done it previously. I don’t think that is a concern.”

Officer Jackson was placed on paid administrative leave the following Monday, December 14th. The judge will provide a decision on the case to the City of Cuba City clerk by the end of next Tuesday, March 9th.

NBC15 reached out to the City of Cuba City clerk Friday morning, who said a decision has not yet been issued.

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