Beloit police officers return "no confidence" vote in police leadership
BELOIT (WKOW) -
Stunning numbers from a recent vote of no confidence reveal the deep frustrations felt by Beloit police officers. The vote has put a symbolic exclamation point on the ongoing concerns with police leadership.
This no confidence vote comes after the city conducted the first part of an internal investigation. Beloit Police Chief Norm Jacobs and Deputy Chief Tom Dunkin remain on administrative leave after an independent review found what the city considered serious problems within the department.
Despite a drastic increase in violent crimes in recent years, union reps say Beloit police officers felt leadership was more interested in parking tickets and traffic citations than preventing violent crime in the community. Police also cite major concerns with equipment and staffing schedules. Wisconsin Professional Police Association Executive Director Jim Palmer says officers were concerned that during shift changes there were periods of time, a half hour or longer, when absolutely no officers would be out patrolling the streets.
Out of 54 Beloit police officers, 44 participated in the no confidence vote. All but one of them agreed they had no confidence in the leadership capabilities of Chief Jacobs and Deputy Chief Dunkin.
Palmer says it's the first no confidence vote the WPPA has ever endorsed. "It was clear that the culture, negative culture, was so pervasive, so detrimental, not only to the officers that are trying to serve the community, but to the community as well," Palmer explains.
"You can see a real cause and effect in terms of that relationship, in terms of how the agency requires its officers to conduct their jobs."
Palmer says officers were discouraged from using proactive and community-based policing approaches. Beloit city leaders are attempting to bring in a second consulting firm to complete the internal investigation of the department. Until then a deputy administrator from the Wisconsin Department of Justice, David Zibolski, will act as interim chief.
Zibolski has declined a sit down interview for now, saying he wants to get settled in. Union reps tell 27 News the department is responding well to his policing approach and morale is improving as officers wait to hear the results of this ongoing internal investigation.