Police and Fire Commission approves KFD appointments, questions what to do with citizens’ comments

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KENOSHA ⏤ During an at-times confusingly formatted meeting, the city’s Police and Fire Commission approved the resignations of three Kenosha Police Department officers. 

The body also approved the appointment of nine probationary firefighters to the Kenosha Fire Department, as well as the job posting for seeking a new fire chief.

However, Commissioner Leo Chiappetta asked questions ⏤ coming technically after the commission had already adjourned ⏤ around citizens’ comments.

The ensuing responses signaled it being a topic of more discussion at future meetings.

Chiappetta questions citizens’ comments process

At the end of the meeting, following a motion and vote to adjourn, Chiappetta asked the county’s Human Resources Department Director Steve Stanczak how members can respond to citizens’ comments presented to them at meetings.

As is the case with all governmental bodies in the county, there is a policy that board, commission and committee members only speak about what is on their agenda. Thus, unless a comment pertains to an agenda item, officials are unable to respond due to that policy.

However, Chiappetta states there should be some form of “transparency” to the commission with how comments are taken. He further asked about the difference between comments and complaints.

“Do we just file it and bring it up to our next meeting and how do we act upon that?” Chiappetta asked. “I just think the Police and Fire Commission has to be somewhat transparent and relate to these.”

Complaints vs. Comments

According to Stanczak, if it is only a comment, the commission does not have to take any action or do anything other than file it. 

Above is the audio of the end of the Police and Fire Commission meeting when the commission voted to adjourn and then Commissioner Leo Chiappetta asked about citizens’ comments. Video by Daniel Thompson/The Uptown Observer.

However, if they receive an official complaint, it will go through the process already designated and come before the board for discussion and a decision. 

That said, Stanczak told members the commission has received very few official complaints. 

“The complaint has to follow some very specific protocols to be a verified complaint,” Stanczak said. “First and foremost, it needs to be filed using a specific form; it needs to be notarized.

“And so we have very few citizen complaints actually received,” he explained further. “They’re mostly just comments, so there’s really no action that needs to be taken on those.”

Stanczak further stated that, if the commission wished to address citizens’ comments or change their method, they would need to revise and vote to first change their policies. 

The first page of the official form to file complaints with the Kenosha Police and Fire Commission, located at https://www.kenosha.org/images/police_and_fire_commisson/COMPLAINT_FORM.pdf.

Meetings ‘not a forum for discussion and debate’

The Police and Fire Commission currently receives complaints, according to Stanczak.

However, department heads also receive the complaints to investigate further. 

“I’m quite confident, with any complaint, there is a process that it is then entered into the record, it is then provided to the commission and then it is sent to any of the chiefs for any further followup investigation,” Stanczak said. 

Commissioner Geri Cucunato asked a question concerning comments about showing up at commissioners’ houses and knocking on their doors and how commissioners should respond to that kind of comment. 

“These are public meetings, of course,” Stanczyk responded. “So they have an opportunity to enter their comments. If the inference is that they want to have some debate, this is not the forum.

“These bodies, commissions, boards, committees and the Common Council are not forums for discussion and debate, so I’m not sure exactly what the intent of the individual is.”

Three officers resign, two for other employment

In addressing agenda items earlier in the meetings, commissioners unanimously approved the resignations of KPD officers Hannah Hooper, Matthew Hagen and Jerel Jones-Denson.

Hooper resigned to pursue a career “in the corporate world,” her letter to Police Chief Daniel Miskinis said.

“This was not an easy decision to make,” Hooper wrote. “The past five plus years have been very rewarding. I have enjoyed working for the Kenosha Police Department and serving the citizens of the City of Kenosha. 

“Serving under your leadership at the helm was a bonus.”

Feb. 12 served as her last work day.

Likewise, Jones-Denson has accepted a patrol officer position with the Everest Metro Police Department in Weston, Wis. 

“This was a collective decision made by my wife and I to ensure that we can provide the life for our children that we want,” he wrote. “It was a great honor to be part of the KPD for the last years, and I will forever be KPD at heart.

“I’m sad to leave, but I know that it is for the best.”

His last day will be Feb. 19.

Hagen’s letter did not indicate the reason for his resignation, effective Feb. 12.

“I hereby tender my resignation as a patrol officer for the Kenosha Police Department, effective February 12th, 2021,” the letter states. “I am proud to have served the residents of Kenosha as a patrol officer for the past 10 years and am grateful for the opportunities that KPD has provided me.”

9 probationary firefighters appointed

For the Kenosha Fire Department, nine probationary firefighters officially joined the local department Tuesday morning. 

Those new Kenosha firefighters include:

  1. Joshua Trice;
  2. Tyler Krepelan;
  3. Jamie Reif;
  4. Michael Santiago;
  5. Dylan Gapko;
  6. Amber Lake;
  7. Niles Consigny;
  8. Cody Marooney;
  9. Jacob Yule.

All of the appointments are effective March 16.

Read the new firefighters bios submitted to the Police and Fire Commission in the gallery below.


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