LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) - What to do with Town of Campbell Police Chief Tim Kelemen was a topic at the Town's board meeting Tuesday night.
The board is moving forward with investigating Chief Kelemen, who admitted to using a local activist's personal email to sign him up for various newsletters and emails. But before going any further the board wanted to confer with their attorney. They did that in a closed session.
The town's attorney, Brent Smith, says the board is not moving forward with disciplinary action right now.
Normally a Police and Fire Commission would handle discipline. The Town of Campbell doesn't have a commission. So if they do decide to pursue disciplinary action they could either appoint a committee of three, or appoint an individual, as long as they are not employed by the Town.
Smith says the board isn't there yet, they are taking an investigative role right now. "Certainly getting a lot of information from, whether it be from the Chief and his representative, obviously we review the law enforcement reports, there's a number of things coming in and so it's a lot of information coming at a quick time and while we want to try and move whatever the process is going to be along expeditiously, I don't think you want to do it hastily," said Smith.
Because they are still investigating, the board took no action against the Chief Tuesday, he will continue his duties as Police Chief.
So if the Board does appoint a disciplinary committee, who will be on it? Smith says it can be anyone as long as they are not employed by the Town of Campbell. For example, for a recent case in Galesville the town appointed a retired judge.
The town board is scheduled to meet again on Thursday to talk about the next step. Smith says that will likely be a closed meeting.
On Monday, News 8 showed you video that was released from the Monroe County Sheriff's Department. It showed Chief Tim Kelemen admitting to using a local activist's personal email to sign him up for various newsletters and emails. Now the police chief's attorney explains his side of the story.
"Tim concedes the fact that he did not exercise the best judgment, but there is a big difference between whether or not you exercise an occasional lapse of judgment and a crime," said Kelemen's attorney Jim Birnbaum with O'Flaherty, Heim, Egan and Birnbaum.
Birnbaum said Kelemen was only trying to protect his police officers from harassment
"They proceeded to start, I am talking about the plaintiff in this case, on his website to invite people to communicate or contact…with the intention to harass," said Birnbaum.
Here is a phone call released by the Town of Campbell's Police Department between Chief Kelemen and a caller.
Kelemen: Hello this is Chief Kelemen,
Caller: Is freedom of speech allowed in Campbell, Wisconsin sir?
Kelemen: Sure is.
Caller: So we can wave the American flag when we want to without getting a citation?
Kelemen: You can wave it anywhere you want on French Island except on the pedestrian overpass. Sir.
Many of the phone calls quickly escalated.
Caller: "You f*** hate our freedom and liberties, You don't give a f*** about safety, you f**** lying mother f*****.
Back in December, Kelemen wrote up a report of events to give to the Department of Criminal Investigation, explaining the threatening phone calls and emails
My officers were getting death threats," said Kelemen, in a video released by the Monroe County Sheriff's Department. "Someone was trying to hack into my personal bank accounts."
However, Kelemen was told they weren't able to do anything about it.
"If the justice department determines that the use of the Internet to threaten to kill police officers is not a crime, then putting some life insurance on someone should not like wise be a crime," said Birnbaum.
At the Town of Campbell Board on Tuesday, the board members will break into a closed session to talk about the matters regarding Kelemen.
The Monroe County Sheriff's Department finished its investigation and handed it over to the Monroe County District Attorney's Office to decide what kind of action, if any, should be taken in the case. However, they have not suggested any criminal charges at this time.
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