The Seeker

A Meta-Cognitive Journal About Writing… Plus Other Stuff

My Encounter With the Lake Geneva Police, pt.3

with one comment

(continued from yesterday…)

The first thing I did was call the LGPD and ask if there was a form to fill out to file a complaint against an officer.  Despite a number of phone calls throughout the end of the summer, I never got a direct answer to that question.  The most I got was a hand-off to someone else in the department.  The first person  was Lieutenant Gritzner, who told me he was aware of my encounter from July Fourth and that I was correct in that Officer Buchburger should have identified herself to me upon request.  He also intimated that he had spoken to her.  I initially took that at face value, but now I doubt that conversation ever took place.

I next talked to Sergeant Hall and informed him that I planned to register a complaint against Officer Ward, and asked him what procedure I needed to follow.  He told me I could tell him about it over the phone.  That wasn’t going to work because it would be too easy for him to tell me whatever I wanted to hear, say he’d speak to Officer Ward, and then do nothing at all.  I have little doubt that has happened before with the LGPD, and is probably their preferred operating procedure so as to give the appearance of accountability.

I ended up writing my complaint and sending it by registered mail to the LGPD and a Lake Geneva city councilman.  That advice came from a website I consulted that explained when you make this kind of noise, the police can’t ignore it.  Plus, the registered mail proves that all parties received the communication.  You know, in case the police would ever dream up a scheme to say they never received a complaint.

Soon enough, I got a call from Sergeant Hall requesting my video footage of the interaction that shows Officer Ward threatening to break my phone and his other antagonistic behaviors.  It seemed a dubious request to me since Officer McNutt assured me during the encounter that they were filming me.  Nonetheless, I stuck a CD-ROM in the mail that showed what happened, along with a note about contacting me by mail.

What I got instead was a voice mail from Officer Hall telling me about Officer Ward’s right to seize my phone and what would have happened had I been arrested.  None of what he said was relevant to my complaint.  Those issues were never in question or even brought up by me, plus he was contradicting what Officer Ward confirmed with me during the encounter:  That I have the right to record him performing his duty.  So, I wrote another letter; this one to the Chief of Police.  I made it clear that it feels like the LGPD is actively working to hide things, and regardless of how true that is, he needs to know that that is the perception.  I asked him to look into the situation described in my initial complaint.

Chief Rasmussen handed the issue off to Assistant Chief Reuss, whose letter back to me stated:

“After a thorough investigation, I find that the actions taken by Officer Ward, Officer McNutt, and Officer Buchberger were lawful and showed no personal bias.”

Once again, the response I received had little to do with what I registered in my complaint.  My complaint never mentioned the two other officers; nor did the issue of “personal bias” ever come up.  Another thing he wrote gave me pause:

“I would never discourage a person from seeking resolution from a matter that concerns them, however my obligation remains to fairly and objectively view the information received.”

It wasn’t the mangled grammar and punctuation that caught my attention; rather, it was the absurdity of the statement.  Of course he would never discourage people to seek resolution because he, and most everyone I encountered in the LGPD, seems practiced in running people around under the guise of internal accountability until they give up from frustration.  It’s interesting to note, too, that the words “malicious threat” and “antagonizing behaviors” were never said by anybody but me.  It seemed as if the use of those phrases by the LGPD would give them legitimacy.

In the end, I’m left thinking that accountability means little to the LGPD, and in that regard they are no different than far too many other police forces.  I can’t see that situation changing until the idea of police monitoring themselves is abandoned.  Thankfully, the police in general are on the nation’s social radar and we might start to see some significant changes in how law enforcement is managed.  It’s too bad this hyper-awareness had to come at such a high price in numerous places around the country.  Thankfully, my episode is little more than a $90 annoyance.  Still, a lot more needs to be done to reduce my skepticism.  And as far as building any amount of respect for the Lake Geneva Police Department, that might never happen.


Written by seeker70

March 19, 2015 at 6:00 am

One Response

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  1. I am totally disappointed in you.  The Jeff Burd I know would not take this as the end of the story.  Keep fighting.  Make them pay you $90!!!

    Cory Fosco

    March 19, 2015 at 9:27 am

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