Complaints Against Police Personnel

Dear Citizen,

Below contains the information pertaining to accepting, processing and investigating complaints concerning allegations of employee misconduct.  The complaint procedures adopted by the Wausau Police Department ensure that fair and proper action is taken when an employee is accused of misconduct.

Establishment of procedures for investigating complaints and allegations of employee misconduct is crucial to demonstrate and protect the Wausau Police Department's integrity.  The Wausau Police Department will accept and investigate, fairly and impartially, all complaints of employee conduct to determine the validity of all allegations.



Benjamin Bliven, Chief of Police



The citizens of Wausau, and the State of Wisconsin, have granted certain responsibilities and authority to the Wausau Police Department.  The department recognizes its responsibility to maintain the public confidence and trust, and the need to ensure integrity and accountability both by the agency and by the employee.  As we recognize the right of all citizens, citizens should recognize that department employees must be free to exercise thier best judgement in taking necessary and reasonable action in the performance of their duties without fear of reprisal.  Specific complaint procedures have been adopted by the Wausau Police Department to ensure that fair and proper action is taken when an employee is accused of misconduct.  This also protects the employees from unwarranted or false accusations.  Additionally, this system provides a means of identifying and correcting deficiencies in policies, procedures, supervision, or training.


Who May Make  Complaint?

Any person may make a complaint.  Normally, the person most directly affected by the alleged conduct should be the person to complain.  An example of this is that a complaint of rudeness to a driver should be made by the driver, not a passenger in the vehicle.  Exceptions to this would include a parent filing a complaint for a minor child or other similar situations.

In What Form Should A Complaint Be Made? 

Complaints may be made in person, in writing, by telephone, or the internet.  Complaints should concisely and specifically  describe the conduct of the employee that was alleged to be improper.  Rather than say the employee was rude, explain how the employee was rude by providing the specific words or phrases, describing the employee's tone of voice, or citing particular acts of rudeness.  Identify the employee to the best of your ability.  This can be accomplished by providing the employee's name, badge number, patrol vehicle number or license plate number, and the date, time, and location of the incident.  Department employees are required by policy to properly identify themselves upon request.  If available, include the names, addresses, and telephone numbers of all witnesses. 

To Whom Should The Complaint Be Submitted? 

Citizens appearing in person, or calling by telephone will be referred to a supervisor.  If no supervisor is available, the citizen may leave thier name and telephone number and a supervisor will re-contact them as soon as possible.  The supervisor will record or assist the citizen in recording pertinent information concerning the complaint.  A citizen may also file a complaint by completing the department's Complaint Against Police Personnel form and sending it through the mail.  All complaints will be received courteously and handled promptly.

 When May Complaints Be Made?

Complaints may be made anytime.  Complaints should be made within a resonable time after the alleged misconduct occurred to help ensure evidence is still available and recollections of the incident are fresh.

What Things Can Be Complained About?

The focus of department procedures is on alleged misconduct by a department employee.  This encompasses violations of the laws or department rules and regulations.  A disagreement with a policy or a law or the application of a policy or law is not considered a "complaint", and will normally be referred to the commander most directly involved with the policy or law in question.

How Does Making A Complaint Affect Present Or Future Charges Against Me? 

Any charges or legal issues must be decided by the appropriate court.  The investigation of your complaint will focus on the conduct of the employee, not the charges against you.  Therefore, the charges against you are a separate issue which you will have to resolve in court.  Information may be provided to you related to the court process, but details of the case will not be discussed.  Information learned during the investigation of the complaint may be used during your criminal proceedings.  Employees are prohibited from retaliating against you, either in the present case or in the future, for lodging a complaint against them.

Can I Make An Anonymous Complaint? 

Anonymous complaints are investigated; however, investigations are less likely to reveal all the facts surrounding an alledged incident when the investigator is deprived of the opportunity to contact the complainant.  Also, an anonymous complainant can not be made aware of the results of the investigation.  For these reasons we strongly encourage persons having legitimate concerns to sign the complaint form and fully cooperate with the investigating supervisor.


Other than those complaints which are immediately resolved, every complaint of misconduct by an employee will be investigated.

Upon receipt of a complaint, the department will acknowledge the receipt through communication with the complainant.  The department may conduct a preliminary inquiry by telephone, by mail, or in person to clarify specific issues.  The complaint form contains an affirmation to the truth of the information provided and a cautionary statement regarding false allegations.  This statement is not intended to dissuade persons from lodging legitimate, factual complaints, but is intended to forewarn persons from making false or malicious complaints that officers and/or the department do have legal recourse for such action.

Upon receipt of a signed complaint form, the department will assign the case for investigation.  Investigators will attempt to contact the complainant, the accused employee, and witnesses; examine physical evidence; review reports and records; and thoroughly document the facts surrounding the incident.

The Chief of Police will render a finding in each case.  There are five possible findings:

Exonerated  A finding that the allegation occurred but that it was justified, lawful and/or proper.

Directive Failure -  The allegation is true, however, the action of the agency or officer was in conformance with existing department directives which led to an undesirable result; or the officer's or department's action violated existing directives even though such actions were reasonable given the totality of circumstances.

Not Sustained - A finding of which indicates the investigation failed to discover sufficient evidence to clearly  prove or disprove the allegation made in the complaint.

Sustained - A finding that indicates there is sufficient evidence to clearly prove the allegations made in a complaint.

Unfounded - A finding which indicates the act(s) complained of did not occur or failed to involve police personnel.

You will be notified of the finding in writing at the conclusion of the investigation.  When a finding of  "Sustained" is determined, corrective action will be taken.  The corrective action may include counseling, training, and action up to and including termination.


Any person may voluntarily withdraw a complaint at any point during the investigative process.  Complaint withdrawal is appropriate in situations where additional information is learned which cause the complainant to realize the department employee's actions were proper.  The department may, however, elect to continue the investigation if circumstances warrant.


If, at the conclusion of the investigation, you are not satisfied with the manner in which the Chief of Police has dealt with your complaint you may address the complaint to the Wausau Police & Fire Commission or to the Mayor's Office.


Questions about complaint procedures should be directed to:

Wausau Police Department
515 Grand Avenue
Wausau WI  54403
Office Hours
Monday - Friday
8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M.

Complaint Form