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Cuba City police officer removal from department ordered

Chief Terrence Terpstra, Cuba City Police Department, appears virtually for hearing
Chief Terrence Terpstra, Cuba City Police Department, appears virtually for hearing(WMTV)
Published: Mar. 9, 2021 at 8:31 PM CST
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CUBA CITY, Wis. (WMTV) - A hearing officer found there was just cause for removal of a Cuba City police officer Tuesday, ordering her removal from the police department.

On Thursday, a disciplinary hearing was held virtually to hear arguments and testimony from Cuba City Police Officer Kimberly Jackson and Chief Terrance Terpstra.

Chief Terpstra had issued charges against officer Jackson to seek the termination of her employment for allegedly leaving her assigned shift without permission, neglect of duty and insubordination.

According to the hearing documents and decision released Tuesday, CCPD Officer Nathan Kennicker and Officer Jackson were both scheduled on Dec. 9, 2020.

Officer Kennicker was called to an incident around 9 p.m. and Officer Jackson showed up shortly later, as well as EMTs. The hearing officer states the subject in the incident was taken to a local hospital, but it was determined they would need to be put in emergency detention. Both officers took the subject to a facility in Madison a little before 2 a.m. Dec. 10 and the two clocked out around 5:45 a.m. This caused a collective 11 hours in overtime between the officers.

Chief Terpstra learned of the incident and the overtime accrued on Dec. 10. The document states that the chief wanted to talk to the officers about the overtime as an issue, but not within the context of discipline. Chief Terpstra also reports receiving a phone call from a citizen who was involved in the incident the day before, who complained about Officer Jackson’s conduct while on the call. The chief later found that no discipline was warranted for the conduct.

The document continues, saying Chief Terpstra spoke to Officer Kennicker about the overtime, telling him one officer would have been enough for the incident. Kennicker then told Jackson later that the chief had talked to him about the incident and would be talking to her.

“Officer Jackson got upset that the transport issue was even being discussed; in fact, she testified that she was mad because it felt like Chief Terpstra didn’t appreciate their efforts,” the hearing officer reports.

Officer Jackson clocked in for her shift that day and talked to the chief about the incident. Jackson argued she was not happy because the chief would choose overtime over safety. Chief Terpstra said he didn’t see a safety issue because the subject in the incident was cooperative.

The hearing officer continues, saying Jackson asked the chief if he wanted the officers to do transports by themselves, saying he has never done one before. Chief Terpstra said he had done transports by himself in the 15 years at his last job. Jackson and Terpstra went back and forth on this issue.

The hearing officer reports that Officer Jackson walked out of the meeting and clocked out for the day nine hours early. She did not report why she was leaving, but later claimed she was sick.

Chief Terpstra thought she had quit on Dec. 10, as she had not had permission to leave. The chief said there were seven hours of the shift left uncovered, but he was able to get partial coverage for the shift. He later put Jackson on administrative leave while an investigation into her conduct was performed, the hearing official notes.

It was at a disciplinary hearing on Jan. 8 that Officer Jackson said she was feeling sick and that was why she left her shift early. Chief Terpstra issued the charges in seeking Jackson’s termination on Jan. 24.

The hearing officer determined that Officer Jackson could have reasonably expected to have knowledge of disciplinary consequences and that the rules she violated are reasonable. The hearing officer also states the Chief made a reasonable effort to find that Jackson violated rules before filing charges against her.

The hearing officer found that the cause for removal of Officer Jackson was just and ordered her removal from the police department.

Officer Jackson committed a profoundly serious offense when she walked off the job without authorization or permission. Her actions could have had serious ramifications for the City and its citizens as a result of the lack of adequate coverage she caused. I conclude that termination is the only reasonable disciplinary consequence appropriate given the facts of this case.

Hearing officer Malina R. Piontek

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