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Department of Police

Chief Aaron Olson: Neenah Police Department

2111 Marathon Avenue | Neenah, Wisconsin 54956-4771
Phone: 920-886-6000 | Fax: 920-886-6054 | Email: police@ci.neenah.wi.us

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Lobby Services:

Open Daily 7 a.m. – 11 p.m.

Closed 11 p.m. – 7 a.m.

Records Division:

8 a.m. – 4 p.m. (Monday – Friday)

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is the Neenah Police Department Accredited?

Yes, the Neenah Police Department became accredited in February of 2019. There are over 500 law enforcement agencies in Wisconsin, and the Neenah Police Department is one of only 42 accredited police departments in the state (as of June 2020).

Accreditation is a process whereby an agency is evaluated on the existence of its compliance with prescribed professional standards. The Neenah Police Department was found to be in compliance of all 210 applicable standards, and there were no standards found not in compliance. This process takes several years to complete and has many benefits to both the City and the citizens.

Does the Neenah Police Department have policies in place?

Yes, the Neenah Police Department has the following policies in place (policies highlighted in red are “essential policies”). As you will see, we have our policies broken down into 10 categories, resulting in 134 policies:

  1. Law Enforcement Role and Authority
    1. 100 Law Enforcement Authority
    2. 101 Oath of Office & Code of Ethics
    3. 103 Chief Executive Order
    4. 103 Policy Manual
  2. Organization and Administration
    1. 200 Organizational Structure and Responsibility
    2. 201 Department Directives
    3. 202 Training
    4. 203 Electronic Mail
    5. 204 Administrative Communications
    6. 205 Supervision/Staffing Levels
    7. 206 Former Officer Carrying Concealed Weapons
  3. General Operations
    1. 300 Use of Force
    2. 301 Use of Force Review Boards
    3. 302 Handcuffing and Restraints
    4. 303 Control Devices and Techniques
    5. 304 Electronic Control Device (ECD)
    6. 305 Officer – Involved Shootings and Deaths
    7. 306 Firearms
    8. 307 Vehicle Pursuits
    9. 308 Officer Response to Calls
    10. 309 Canines
    11. 310 Domestic Abuse
    12. 311 Search and Seizure
    13. 311 Temporary Custody of Juveniles
    14. 313 Adult Abuse
    15. 314 Child Abuse
    16. 315 Missing Persons
    17. 316 Public Alerts
    18. 317 Victim and Witness Assistance
    19. 318 Bias-Motivated Crimes
    20. 319 Standards of Conduct
    21. 320 Media Relations
    22. 321 Department Technology Use
    23. 322 Subpoenas and Court Appearances
    24. 323 Registered Offender Information
    25. 324 Major Incident Notification
    26. 325 Firearm Injury Reporting
    27. 326 Death Investigation
    28. 327 Identity Theft
    29. 328 Private Person’s Arrests
    30. 329 Limited English Proficiency Services
    31. 330 Communications with Person with Disabilities
    32. 331 Auxiliary Personnel
    33. 332 Volunteers
    34. 333 Off-Duty Law Enforcement Actions
    35. 334 Department Use of Social Media
    36. 335 Rescue/Utility Knife
    37. 336 Emergency Operations Plan
    38. 337 Community Relations
    39. 338 Report Preparation
  4. Patrol Operations
    1. 400 Bias-Based Policing
    2. 401 Briefing
    3. 402 Crime and Disaster Scene Integrity
    4. 403 SWAT Team
    5. 404 Ride-Along
    6. 405 Hazardous Material Response
    7. 406 Response to Bomb Calls
    8. 407 Emergency Detentions
    9. 408 Citation Releases
    10. 409 Foreign Diplomatic and Consular Representatives
    11. 410 Rapid Response and Deployment
    12. 411 Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) Operations
    13. 412 Immigration Violation
    14. 413 Patrol Rifles
    15. 414 Aircraft Accidents
    16. 415 Field Training Officers
    17. 416 Contacts and Temporary Detentions
    18. 417 Field Audio Video Recordings
    19. 418 Mobile Data Computer Use
    20. 419 Portable Audio/Video Recorders
    21. 420 Foot Pursuits
    22. 421 Homeless Persons
    23. 422 Public Recording of Law Enforcement Activity
    24. 423 First Amendment Assemblies
    25. 424 Civil Disputes
    26. 425 Suspicious Activity Reporting
    27. 426 Crisis Intervention Incidents
    28. 427 Medical Aid and Response
    29. 428 Bicycle Patrol
    30. 429 Police Explorers
    31. 430 Criminal Trespass to Dwelling
    32. 431 Utility-Terrain Vehicle (UTV)
  5. Traffic Operation
    1. 500 Traffic Function and Responsibility
    2. 501 Traffic Crash Response and Reporting
    3. 502 Vehicle Towing, Inventory and Release
    4. 503 Impaired Driving
    5. 504 Traffic Citations/Parking Tickets
    6. 505 Disabled Vehicles
    7. 506 Abandoned Vehicles
  6. Investigation Operations
    1. 600 Investigation and Prosecution
    2. 601 Sexual Assault Investigation
    3. 602 Informants
    4. 603 Eyewitness Identification
    5. 604 Bray Material Disclosure
    6. 605 Operations Planning and Deconfliction
    7. 607 Criminal Intelligence
  7. Equipment
    1. 700 Department-Owned and Personal Property
    2. 701 Personal Communication Devices
    3. 702 Vehicle Maintenance
    4. 703 Vehicle Use
    5. 704 Cash Handling, Security and Management
  8. Support Services
    1. 800 Property and Evidence
    2. 801 Records Section
    3. 802 Records Maintenance and Release
    4. 803 Protected Information
    5. 804 Communications
    6. 806 Short Forming of Complaints
  9. Custody
    1. 900 Temporary Custody of Adults
    2. 901 Custodial Searches
  10. Personnel
    1. 1000 Recruitment and Selection
    2. 1001 Evaluation of Employees
    3. 1002 Promotional Process
    4. 1003 Reporting of Employee Legal Actions
    5. 1004 Alcohol and Drug Use
    6. 1005 Sick Leave & Other Absences
    7. 1006 Personnel Complaints/Internal Affairs
    8. 1007 Seat Belts
    9. 1008 Body Armor
    10. 1009 Personnel Files
    11. 1010 Commendations and Awards
    12. 1011 Fitness for Duty
    13. 1012 Meal Periods and Breaks
    14. 1013 Lactations Breaks
    15. 1014 Overtime Compensation Requests
    16. 1015 Outside Employment
    17. 1016 Personal Appearance Standards
    18. 1017 Uniform Regulations
    19. 1018 Nepotism and Employment Conflicts
    20. 1019 Temporary Modified-Duty Assignments
    21. 1020 Employee Speech, Expression and Social Networking
    22. 1021 Locker Rooms
    23. 1022 Exercise Room & Fitness Equipment
    24. 1024 Line-of-Duty Deaths
    25. 1025 Grievance Procedures

Does the Neenah Police Department have body cameras?

Yes, we do. We also have video cameras in our squad cars.

Are the Neenah Police officers required to turn them on?

Yes, they are and this is per policy 417.5.1. This policy states the following:

417.5.1 REQUIRED ACTIVATION OF THE MAV AND BWC – This policy is not intended to describe every possible situation that should be recorded. As a general rule, officers should activate the BWC (Body Worn Camera)/MAV (Mobile Audio Video) to record all contacts with citizens in the performance of official duties.  Additionally, an officer should activate a recording system any time the officer believes it would be helpful to document an incident.

In some circumstances it is not possible to capture images of the incident due to conditions or the location of the camera. However, the audio portion can still be valuable evidence.  Officers should consider using the cameras to capture audio information in those cases.

As a general rule, officers should activate their camera PRIOR to arriving on scene.

MAV and BWC systems should be used during official police operations in the following types of contact:

    • Interviews with complainants, witnesses, and suspects in criminal cases
    • Traffic contacts (with both MAV and BWC)
    • Pedestrian contacts
    • Contacts with subjects who are complaining about officer behavior or department response
    • When counting or inventorying money or other valuables
    • When collecting contraband

Does the Neenah Police Department recognize bias-based policing?

Not only does the Neenah Police Department recognize this, we have a policy on it: Policy 400 – Bias-Based Policing states the following:

This policy provides guidance to department members that affirms the Neenah Police Department’s commitment to policing that is fair and objective.

Nothing in this policy prohibits the use of specified characteristics in law enforcement activities designed to strengthen the department’s relationship with its diverse communities (e.g., cultural and ethnicity awareness training, youth programs, community group outreach, partnerships).

Definitions related to this policy include:

Bias-based policing – An inappropriate reliance on characteristics such as race, color, ancestry, political affiliation, marital status, gender, economic status, age, cultural group, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, economic status, age, cultural group, disability or affiliation with any non-criminal group (protected characteristics) as the basis for providing differing law enforcement service or enforcement.

400.2 POLICY
The Neenah Police Department is committed to providing law enforcement services to the community with due regard for the racial, cultural or other differences of those served. It is the policy of this department to provide law enforcement services and to enforce the law equally, fairly, objectively and without discrimination toward any individual or group.

Bias-based policing is strictly prohibited.

However, nothing in this policy is intended to prohibit an officer from considering protected characteristics in combination with credible, timely and distinct information connecting a person or people of a specific characteristic to a specific unlawful incident, or to specific unlawful incidents, specific criminal patterns or specific schemes.

Every member of this department shall perform his/her duties in a fair and objective manner and is responsible for promptly reporting any suspected or known instances of bias-based policing to a supervisor. Members should, when reasonable to do so, intervene to prevent any biased-based actions by another member.

Officers contacting a person shall be prepared to articulate sufficient reason for the contact, independent of the protected characteristics of the individual.

To the extent that written documentation would otherwise be completed (e.g., arrest report, Field Interview (FI) card), the involved officer should include those facts giving rise to the contact, as applicable.

Except for required data-collection forms or methods, nothing in this policy shall require any officer to document a contact that would not otherwise require reporting.

In an effort to prevent inappropriate perceptions of biased based law enforcement, each officer should do the following with conducting pedestrian and vehicle stops:

    • Introduce him/herself to the person (providing name and agency affiliation) and state the reason for the stop as soon as practical, unless providing this information will compromise officer or public safety.  In vehicle stops, the officer shall provide this information before asking the driver for his or her license and registration.
    • Ensure that the detention is no longer than necessary to take appropriate action for the known or suspected offense and that the citizen understands the purpose of reasonable delays.
    • Answer any questions the citizen may have, including explaining options for traffic citation disposition, if relevant.
    • Provide his/her name and badge number when requested, in writing or on a business card.
    • Apologize and/or explain if the officer determines that the reasonable suspicion was unfounded (i.e. after an investigatory stop).

Supervisors should monitor those individuals under their command for compliance with this policy and shall handle any alleged or observed violations in accordance with the Personnel Complaints Policy.

    • Supervisors should discuss any issues with the involved officer and his/her supervisor in a timely manner.
      • Supervisors should document these discussions, in the prescribed manner.
    • Supervisors should periodically review MAV recordings, portable audio/video recordings, Mobile Data Computer (MDC) data and any other available resource used to document contact between officers and the public to ensure compliance with this policy. 
      • Supervisors should document these periodic reviews.
      • Recordings or data that capture a potential instance of bias-based policing should be appropriately retained for administrative investigation purposes. 
    • Supervisors shall initiate investigations of any actual or alleged violations of this policy.
    • Supervisors should take prompt and reasonable steps to address any retaliatory action taken against any member of this department who discloses information concerning bias-based policing.

Training on racial or biased-based profiling and review of this policy should be conducted as directed by the Professional Staff Captain.

Will the Neenah Police Department continue to train their officers in implicit bias training?

Every officer is completing a training course called “Uncovering Implicit Bias” right now. This training is online and is described as the following:

The course uncovers implicit bias, which encourages employees to reconsider their preconceptions and recognize personal biases, looking inward to provide the officers an opportunity to adjust their perspective and relationships. This course also teaches employees what implicit bias is, helps them understand what its effects are in the workplace, and provides strategies for combating & dislodging implicit bias in hiring and decision-making.

Everyone at Neenah PD will have completed this training by July 1, 2020. I, Chief Olson, am also meeting with an instructor who might be hired to teach our officers further on this topic. 

Do the officers in Neenah and in the state of Wisconsin have qualified immunity?

Yes. Here is a statement from the International Association of Chiefs of Police:

As police executives, community members, and elected officials seek to transform the policing profession, there are several areas of agreement where the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) believes we can and should work in unison to recommend and develop meaningful solutions. This includes, but is not limited to, use-of-force policies, training and education standards, early warning systems, disciplinary procedures, and hiring practices.

However, the IACP is gravely concerned by and fervently opposed to efforts to change the qualified immunity protections for police officers. Qualified immunity is a foundational protection for the policing profession and any modification to this legal standard will have a devastating impact on the police’s ability to fulfill its public safety mission.

What is qualified immunity? Qualified immunity provides police officers with protection from civil lawsuits so long as their conduct does not violate clearly established law or constitutional rights of which a reasonable officer would have known. Further, qualified immunity does not prevent individuals from recovering damages from police officers who knowingly violate an individual’s constitutional rights.

Qualified immunity is an essential part of policing and American jurisprudence. It allows police officers to respond to incidents without pause, make split-second decisions, and rely on the current state of the law in making those decisions. This protection is essential because it ensures officers that good faith actions, based on their understanding of the law at the time of the action, will not later be found to be unconstitutional. The loss of this protection would have a profoundly chilling effect on police officers and limit their ability and willingness to respond to critical incidents without hesitation.

Calls to limit, reduce, or eliminate qualified immunity do not represent a constructive path forward. In fact, these efforts would most certainly have a far-reaching, deleterious effect on the policing profession’s ability to serve and protect communities.

Does the Neenah Police Department have a Use of Force policy?

Yes, the Neenah Police Department has a Use of Force policy that is very comprehensive and meets all of the state and federal guidelines, along with accreditation guidelines.

Does the Use of Force policy have a duty to intercede section?

Yes, Policy 300.2.1 states the following:

300.2.1 DUTY TO INTERCEDE – Any officer present and observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances shall, when in a position to do so, intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force. An officer who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law should promptly report these observations to a supervisor.

Does the Neenah Police Department train their officers to use choke holds and is this in the Use of Force policy?

No, the Neenah Police Department does not train our officers to use chokeholds; however, if a suspect’s behavior has caused or imminently threatens to cause death or great bodily harm to a citizen or an officer, the use of deadly force is justified in the following circumstances:

  • An officer may use deadly force to protect him/herself or others from what he/she reasonably believes would be an imminent threat of death or serious bodily injury.
  • An officer may use deadly force to stop a fleeing subject when the officer has probable cause to believe that the person has committed, or intends to commit, a felony involving the infliction or threatened infliction of serious bodily injury or death, and the officer reasonably believes that there is an imminent risk of serious bodily injury or death to any other person if the subject is not immediately apprehended. Under such circumstances, a verbal warning should precede the use of deadly force, where feasible. Imminent Threat Criteria: Weapon, Intent, & Delivery System. Imminent does not mean immediate or instantaneous. An imminent danger may exist even if the suspect is not at that very moment pointing a weapon at someone. For example, an imminent danger may exist if an officer reasonably believes any of the following:
    • The person has a weapon, or is attempting to access one (WEAPON).
    • It is reasonable to believe the person intends to use it against the officer or another (INTENT).
    • The person is capable of causing death or serious bodily injury (DELIVERY SYSTEM).

A person is capable of causing serious bodily injury or death without a weapon and if it is reasonable to believe the person intends to do so, deadly force would be justified as well. With this outlined, if an extreme circumstance occurs where the last resort is a choke hold, it could be a justifiable last resort for an officer to use a chokehold.

Does the Neenah Police Department have a policy for shooting at or from moving vehicles?

Yes, Policy 300.4.1 states the following:

SHOOTING AT OR FROM MOVING VEHICLES – Shots fired at or from a moving vehicle are rarely effective. Officers should move out of the path of an approaching vehicle instead of discharging their firearm at the vehicle or any of its occupants. An officer should only discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle or its occupants when the officer reasonably believes there are no other reasonable means available to avert the threat of the vehicle, or if deadly force other than the vehicle is directed at the officer or others.

Officers should not shoot at any part of a vehicle in an attempt to disable the vehicle, except under extreme circumstances where stopping the vehicle is necessary to protect life.

Will the Neenah Police Department implement the #8CantWait procedures that are being campaigned by multiple political parties?

 #8cantwait is outlined as:

The following #8cantwait policies are outlined on their webpage: https://8cantwait.org/

I have given my responses in red:

  1. Allowing officers to choke or strangle civilians results in the unnecessary death or serious injury of civilians. Both chokeholds and all other neck restraints must be banned in all cases.

As stated previously, we do not train our officers to use chokeholds or to strangle civilians. With this said, if an officer’s presence, dialogue, control alternatives, and protective alternatives have not worked on a civilian, deadly force is the last option. As stated, even though we do not train in the use of chokeholds or strangulation, it could become a last resort, just like the use of a firearm could.

  1. Require officers to de-escalate situations, where possible, by communicating with subjects, maintaining distance, and otherwise eliminating the need to use force.

The Neenah Police Department requires officers to de-escalate, and this is a big part of our training.

  1. Require officers to give a verbal warning in all situations before using deadly force.

We train our officers to give a verbal warning in all situations before using deadly force, but there are times that this is not reasonable. For example, if an officer and a citizen are engaging in a conversation, and an armed citizen jumps out from behind a place of concealment and starts shooting at the officer and citizen, the officer needs to immediately react, and sometimes it is not reasonable for an officer to take the time to give a warning.

  1. Require officers to exhaust all other alternatives, including non-force and less lethal force options, prior to resorting to deadly force.

The Neenah Police Department trains our officers to exhaust all other alternatives before resorting to deadly force.

  1. Require officers to intervene and stop excessive force used by other officers and report these incidents immediately to a supervisor.

The Neenah Police Department requires this, and it is in policy 300.2.1, which states the following:

DUTY TO INTERCEDE – Any officer present and observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances shall, when in a position to do so, intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force. An officer who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law should promptly report these observations to a supervisor.

  1. Ban officers from shooting at moving vehicles in all cases, which is regarded as a particularly dangerous and ineffective tactic.

This is outlined in policy 300.4.1, which states the following: 

SHOOTING AT OR FROM MOVING VEHICLES – Shots fired at or from a moving vehicle are rarely effective. Officers should move out of the path of an approaching vehicle instead of discharging their firearm at the vehicle or any of its occupants. An officer should only discharge a firearm at a moving vehicle or its occupants when the officer reasonably believes there are no other reasonable means available to avert the threat of the vehicle, or if deadly force other than the vehicle is directed at the officer or others.

Officers should not shoot at any part of a vehicle in an attempt to disable the vehicle, except under extreme circumstances where stopping the vehicle is necessary to protect life.

  1. Establish a Force Continuum that restricts the most severe types of force to the most extreme situations and creates clear policy restrictions on the use of each police weapon and tactic.

There has been a force continuum in place for decades.

  1. Require officers to report each time they use force or threaten to use force against civilians. Comprehensive reporting includes requiring officers to report whenever they point a firearm at someone, in addition to all other types of force.

The Neenah Police Department has polices on this. Policy 300.5 states the following:

Any use of force by a member of this department, equal to or greater than Compliance Holds as listed in Wisconsin’s LESB standard Intervention Options, shall be documented promptly, completely and accurately in an IAPro Use of Force report. The officer should articulate the factors perceived and why he/she believed the use of force was reasonable under the circumstances. To collect data for purposes of training, resource allocation, analysis and related purposes, the Department may require the completion of additional report forms, as specified in department policy, procedure or law.

When an officer uses force, they are required by policy 300.5.1 to notify supervisor. Per policy 300.7, the supervisor is expected to:

      • Obtain the basic facts from the involved officers. Absent an allegation of misconduct or excessive force, this will be considered a routine contact in the normal course of duties.
      • Ensure that any injured parties are examined and treated.
      • Once any initial medical assessment has been completed or first aid has been rendered, ensure that photographs have been taken of any areas involving visible injury or complaint of pain, as well as overall photographs of uninjured areas. These photographs should be retained until all potential for civil litigation has expired.
      • Identify any witnesses not already included in related reports.
      • Review and approve all related reports.
      • Determine if there is any indication that the subject may pursue civil litigation and advise a command staff member as appropriate.
      • Evaluate the circumstances surrounding the incident and initiate an administrative investigation if there is a question of policy non-compliance or if for any reason further investigation may be appropriate.

The supervisor writes a detailed use of force report and inputs all of the data into our IAPro system. Each use of force is reviewed by the Professional Standards Lieutenant, Professional Staff Captain, Assistant Chief, and Chief.  

What is the State of Wisconsin training our officers in the subject of Use of Force?

The Wisconsin Chiefs of Police, Badger Sheriffs’ Association, and the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Associations wrote the below response, which is a direct quote:

Introductory Key Points

    • Use-of-Force tactics have been placed in a spotlight nationwide and often this information is not applicable to the high standards already in place in Wisconsin.
    • Law enforcement training in Wisconsin currently includes instruction in cultural competency and de-escalation tactics.
    • Regarding use-of-force, Wisconsin law enforcement officers are taught any use-of-force must be objectively reasonable and, moreover, Wisconsin does not teach any type of chokehold as a compliance alternative.
    • It is fundamental that Wisconsin law enforcement officers earn the respect of the public that they are sworn to protect and serve.
    • When law enforcement officers violate laws or ignore department policy, they must immediately be held accountable. Law enforcement leaders in Wisconsin will tolerate nothing less.
    • Law enforcement has worked hard, since the inception of the Community Policing concept, to adhere to these principles and strongly believe in policing with our communities.


Key Points

    • There have been major improvements in WI over the years specific to the development of law governing officer conduct, the use-of-force, and officer involved deaths in the State.
    • Currently, the State of Wisconsin Statutes already requires 11 mandatory policies that every law enforcement agency including requirements specific to use-of-force and officer involved death investigations.
    • Wisconsin requires all law enforcement agencies to have a use-of-force policy published and available for “public scrutiny.”
    • In 2014, Wisconsin became the first state in the country to enact a law requiring outside investigations when there is an officer-involved death.
    • The overarching goal for every law enforcement agency is to provide an open, honest, ethical department that ensures transparent and impartial investigations.
    • These separate, independent investigations yield the highest standard of transparency for all parties involved and the public.

Additional Background Information

Below are the specific statutes on the use-of-force and officer involved death investigations.

 Those two policies are:

    • Use-of-Force: 66.0511(2) “Each person in charge of a law enforcement agency shall prepare in writing and make available for public scrutiny a policy or standard regulating the use-of-force by law enforcement officers in the performance of their duties.”
    • Officer-Involved Death: 175.47 “Each law enforcement agency shall have a written policy regarding the investigation of officer-involved deaths that involve a law enforcement officer employed by the law enforcement agency.” This statute also requires outside investigators to conduct any officer-involved death incidents.

The below are Wisconsin State Laws mandating how officer-involved death investigation shall be conducted:

    • 175.47(3)(a) “Each policy under sub. (2) must require an investigation conducted by at least 2 investigators, one of whom is the lead investigator and neither of whom is employed by a law enforcement agency that employs a law enforcement officer involved in the officer-involved death.”
    • 175.47(3)(b) If the officer-involved death being investigated is traffic-related, the policy under sub. (2) must require the investigation to use a crash reconstruction unit from a law enforcement agency that does not employ a law enforcement officer involved in the officer-involved death being investigated, except that a policy for a state law enforcement agency may allow an investigation involving a law enforcement officer employed by that state law enforcement agency to use a crash reconstruction unit from the same state law enforcement agency.
    • 175.47(3)(c) Each policy under sub. (2) may allow an internal investigation into the officer-involved death if the internal investigation does not interfere with the investigation conducted under par. (a).
    • 175.47(5)(a) The investigators conducting the investigation under sub. (3) (a) shall, in an expeditious manner, provide a complete report to the district attorney of the county in which the officer-involved death occurred.
    • 175.47(5)(b) If the district attorney determines there is no basis to prosecute the law enforcement officer involved in the officer-involved death, the investigators conducting the investigation under sub. (3) (a) shall release the report, except that the investigators shall, before releasing the report, delete any information that would not be subject to disclosure pursuant to a request under s. 19.35 (1) (a).


Key Points

Current Process and Training

    • The State of Wisconsin requires stringent background investigations to be conducted on every law enforcement applicant before being permitted to enter a basic recruit or employer-based academy. These background investigations are thorough including psychological testing, physical and drug screen testing, criminal history background checks, reference and neighborhood checks, previous employer and school checks, and some agencies have polygraph examinations as permitted by law.
    • Law enforcement agencies across Wisconsin look to hire the highest quality individuals who possess the highest level of integrity, honesty, and character before being provided a conditional job offer.
    • Upon a successful background investigation, which an applicant meets all of the conditional requirements of employment as a law enforcement officer, an officer must complete or have completed the 720-hour training academy.
    • In Wisconsin, the 720-hour academy is conducted at technical colleges throughout the State of Wisconsin and taught by instructors that are both current and former law enforcement officers and other subject matter experts in the numerous disciplines officers will encounter while in the field.
    • The State of Wisconsin 720-hour academy has a three-phase system in place regarding the basic training of police officers; Phase #1 deals with Introduction and Non-emergency responses, Phase #2 deals with Emergency Responses, and phase #3 deals with Investigations. After the academy students participate in 12 hours of integration exercises incorporating all three phases of the basic police academy.
    • To successfully graduate, students, for the last week of the academy and besides the written examinations, must participate in 40 hours of scenario-based evaluations whereby students are thrust into a differing situation they will encounter with role players. This evaluation helps instructors ensure that these recruits can successfully problem solve and with varying problems, including use-of-force situations, successfully demonstrate the requisite skills to be a police officer.
    • As part of a law enforcement officer’s 720-hour basic training, an officer is trained in the following areas:
    • Critical Thinking and Decision Making – 8 hours
    • Cultural Competence – 8 hours
    • Ethics/Individual Character, Values and Ethics – 4 hours
    • Ethics II/Moral Reasoning and Professional Conduct – 4 hours
    • Traffic Law Enforcement and Racial Sensitivity Training – Part of 12-hour block
    • Within Traffic Law Block – Definition of Bias Based Policing and Selective Traffic Enforcement – students are required to identify 4 differences between Bias Based Policing and Selective Traffic Enforcement – Part of 12-hour block

Building on the Strong Foundation

    • While Wisconsin is a national leader for law enforcement training and standards, there is always room for improvement.
    • For the past several legislative sessions, law enforcement organizations have supported and advocated for reforms to update practices of the Law Enforcement Standards Board (LESB) and streamline hiring practices for law enforcement (2017 AB 506)
    • This policy proposal enhances the recruitment process for law enforcement to allow law enforcement hiring agencies to conduct even more thorough background checks on candidates who currently hold, or have held law enforcement, jail, and/or juvenile detention officer positions elsewhere in the state.
    • Another element included in this policy proposal, that will further increase transparency is to create an “employment file” (complete with job performance and disciplinary information) for each law enforcement officer and requires that files can be transferred after the interviewing candidate signs a written waiver authorization to disclose the candidate’s employment files.
    • This process ensures that information is shared and officers with a problematic history cannot hide behind non-disclosure agreements.
    • The Wisconsin law enforcement organizations will continue to advocate for this policy to become law in future legislative sessions.


Key Points

    • Wisconsin does NOT teach, as part of Use-of-Force any type of chokehold as a compliance alternative.
    • Use-of-Force training is an important tool to keep our officers and citizens safe. Every officer in Wisconsin is trained the same way as required by the State of Wisconsin Law Enforcement Standards Board (LESB).
    • Under current law, the Wisconsin LESB sets standards for recruitment, education, and training for law enforcement. LESB also can certify and decertify law enforcement, tribal law enforcement, jail, or juvenile detention officers.
    • LESB is an important regulatory body for law enforcement, ensuring minimum standards and developing valuable curriculum.
    • Wisconsin has utilized best practices and followed the Defense and Arrest Tactics system training since the late 1980s. As training has evolved so to has the Defense and Arrest Tactics training. Dealing with Medically Significant Behavior would be one example of that.
    • An extensive amount of time with recruit officers is spent with Crisis Management (20 hours) and dealing with people with mental health issues as well as people who may suffer from addictions such as alcohol or drugs, and how to recognize and properly respond to those types of behaviors exhibited.
    • Officers also undergo numerous specialized trainings after being in the field and participate in specific local training on diversionary services.

Additional Background Information

The Wisconsin Defense and Arrest Tactic (DAAT) System is defined as:

DAAT is a system of verbalization skills couple with physical alternatives.

Officers are taught the appropriate reasons to utilize force:

    1. To achieve and maintain control of resistive subjects
    2. To detain persons reasonably suspected of criminal behavior
    3. To make lawful arrests
    4. In defense of self or others
    5. To prevent escapes

Limitations on the Use-of-Force is dictated by:

    1. The United States Constitution
    2. Wisconsin State Statutes
    3. The agencies policies regarding the use-of-force
    4. The training the officer has received

 If verbalization is effective in gaining control, it is always preferable to physical force.

The purpose of the use-of-force is to gain control in pursuit of a legitimate law enforcement objective. There is NO other legitimate purpose for the use-of-force.

The case law basis permitting Use-of-Force by officers in our Nation (Graham v. Connor):

In 1989, the United States Supreme Court ruled in Graham v. Connor that law enforcement officers’ use-of-force against subjects was a type of seizure, subject to 4th Amendment analysis.

Force must be “objectively reasonable” under the 4th Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable seizures. The Court then laid out the issues to consider when deciding if a particular use-of-force is reasonable.

Graham v. Connor sets the standard for every law enforcement use-of-force.

Note that the court said that each use-of-force must be judged based on the facts known to the officer at the time. Graham v. Connor does not provide any “bright line” rule. Each situation is unique and must be evaluated on its merit.

 When Does a Law Enforcement Officer’s Use-of-Force Action Become a Crime?

 Wis. Stat. § 939.45 gives officers the “privilege” to use force. “Privilege” is a defense to what would otherwise be a criminal act. In other words, the actor (officer) is performing an action that would be criminal, except that the officer is performing the act under one of these statutory exceptions –the “privilege” to perform the act.

If an officer uses force outside of the specified privileged exceptions, the officer is committing a crime.

If an officer acts in bad faith, or the officer’s conduct is not reasonable, the officer’s actions are not privileged under this statute.

 Defense and Arrest Tactics Use-of-Force Intervention Techniques Options

The previously mentioned tenets are the basis of force utilization in Wisconsin trained to law enforcement officers. We achieve this through the Intervention Options model whereby the officer responds to the behavior being exhibited by a person. In other words, officers are taught to treat a problem – regardless of the person’s ethnicity, lifestyle, gender, or any other factor. Officers deal with the behavior and circumstances that are presented to them – period.

Citizens at times become confused when they encounter an officer during a situation and are told to do something by an officer. At times citizens will argue with the officer. The misunderstanding during some of these encounters is that it is a give and take situation. It is not.

An officer who uses dialogue and control talk by giving a lawful order is trying to accomplish the legitimate police objective of maintaining control of persons or a situation. Officers are taught to be very understanding and empathetically listen and comprehend what people are saying – but based upon the type of incident occurring, and the safety of everybody involved, officer’s orders are to be obeyed.

Officers have a trained and disciplined response to various situations they are observing. They have been taught many things regarding situational awareness, officer-subject factors (size, physical attributes, demeanor) as well as multiple subjects that an officer may be dealing with.

The following table is a snapshot of the Intervention Options and excerpts from the Basic Recruit Training Manual that officers in Wisconsin employ while dealing with citizens:



A. Presence

To present a visible display of authority (uniformed police officer)

B. Dialog

To verbally persuade (this is the PREFERRED method of gaining control – much time is spent on Professional Communication Skills) – to voluntarily obtain compliance from a person

C. Control Alternatives

To overcome passive resistance, active resistance or their threats

D. Protective Alternatives

To overcome continued resistance, assaultive behavior, or their threats

E. Deadly Force

To Stop the Threat

Does the Neenah Police Department have an armored vehicle?

Yes, the Department has a Caiman Rescue Vehicle, also known as an MRAP, which is an acronym for Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected. This vehicle was made by BAE Systems and was obtained in May of 2014 from the Federal Government’s 1033 Program. Prior to this vehicle, the Department had a 1979 Peacekeeper, which was obtained in 2000. In 2013, the Peacekeeper was 34 years old and was getting expensive to maintain. In the final years of service, it cost approximately $5,300.00 for maintenance. It was at that point the Department began researching a replacement.

How did the Department acquire the Caiman Rescue Vehicle?

Since civilian armored vehicles cost between $200,000.00 and $1,000,000.00, based on upgrades and extra components, the Department wanted to be financially responsible, so the vehicle was obtained through the Federal Government’s 1033 program.

Is the Caiman Rescue Vehicle a tank?

No, tanks are vehicles that have a main weapon system and are essentially platforms for weapons. The Caiman Rescue Vehicle has no weapons and is basically an armored vehicle similar to a bank’s armored car used for protecting money, except the Caiman protects people.

What is the purpose of the Neenah Police Department having a Caiman Rescue Vehicle?

The vehicle can be used to protect officers and civilians during critical incidents in which lives are in danger. It can also be deployed for manmade or natural disasters and to assist in community events.

How many times has the Caiman Rescue Vehicle been used?

Excluding training and maintenance, the vehicle has been used on 30 deployments from May 2014 to July 2020. These deployments were for critical incidents. Of the 30 deployments, 12 were assisting other agencies.

How much did the vehicle cost?

The Department paid $1,500.00 for the Caiman Rescue Vehicle. The actual base price for the Caiman was $733,000.00. Since this vehicle was located in Sealy, Texas, two local organizations paid for and donated the cost of the transport, which was $4,600.00, to the City of Neenah.

Once the Department obtained the Caiman Rescue Vehicle, how much did it cost to convert it to the agency’s requirements?

The Department used $4,711.00 for various conversions and updates. This came out of the Department’s Vehicle Maintenance budget. In addition, the Department used $11,713.00 from the SWAT fund, which consists of donations and is NOT taxpayer-funded. This money went to emergency lights, painting the vehicle, adding graphics, and more.

What are the maintenance costs for the Caiman Rescue Vehicle?

Since May 2014 to July 2020, the maintenance cost was $1,846.16. Of this, $1,408.00 was for labor costs from our City Garage, and $438.16 was for parts, oil, filters, grease, etc. These costs average approximately $307.69 per year. Major parts can be obtained from the 1033 Program, saving the taxpayers money.

How much gas does the Caiman Rescue Vehicle use?

From May 2014 to July 2020, the vehicle used 500.5 gallons, costing $1,157.87 or $193.00 per year.

What is the 1033 Program?

This is a Federal Government program through the Department of Defense (DoD), Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), and the Law Enforcement Support Office (LESO) that began in 1996. It transfers excess military items to law enforcement agencies. One of the leading positive factors is the high cost savings to the taxpayers of the local jurisdictions that obtain these items.

What equipment does the 1033 Program give out?

The program gives various items and equipment from the military. These can be vehicles, first aid kits, backpacks, tents, tools, generators, computers, binoculars, cameras, helicopters, ATVs, boats, office equipment, and more.

In the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal years 1990 and 1991, Congress authorized the transfer of excess DoD property to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. Congress later passed the NDAA for fiscal year 1997, which allows law enforcement agencies to acquire property for bona fide law enforcement purposes – particularly those associated with counter-drug and counter-terrorism activities. The program has been named in the press and elsewhere as the “1033 Program,” which refers to the numbered section of the 1997 NDAA that granted permanent authority to the Secretary of Defense to transfer defense material to federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies.

What excess military items are NOT available through the 1033 Program?

DLA has determined that 133 federal stock classes of supply are prohibited for transfer to law enforcement agencies because of their tactical military characteristics.

Prohibited equipment includes the following: any aircraft, vessels or vehicles that inherently contain weaponry (e.g. tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles, armed drones); crew served/large caliber (.50 caliber or greater) weapons and ammunition; military uniforms; body armor; Kevlar helmets; and explosives or pyrotechnics of any kind. Also, aircraft and vehicles available in the program are “demilitarized,” meaning that any specific military technology (e.g. communication equipment) are removed prior to transfer to law enforcement agencies.

How many law enforcement agencies are currently participating in the 1033 Program?

As of June 2020, there are around 8,200 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies from 49 states and four U.S. territories participating in the program. A law enforcement agency is defined as a government agency whose primary function is the enforcement of applicable federal, state, and local laws and whose compensated law enforcement officers have the powers of arrest and apprehension.

How does a local police department participate in the 1033 Program?

The Governor-appointed state coordinators approve and certify law enforcement agencies in their state and work with agencies regarding program participation, to include the State Plan of Operations. Once in the program, a law enforcement agency is able to review online the available excess Department of Defense (DoD) inventory that is suitable for law enforcement and make requests for property through the state coordinator. Law enforcement agencies do not pay for the property but must pay for shipping the items as well as potential storage costs. All excess DoD property is shipped “as is” and the law enforcement agency is responsible for all costs associated with acquisition, maintenance, and costs to return the property when it is no longer needed.

What is the difference between “controlled” and “non-controlled” property in the 10-33 Program?

Controlled property: Consists of military items that are provided via a conditional transfer or “loan” basis where title remains with DoD/DLA. This includes items such as small arms/personal weapons, demilitarized vehicles and aircraft, and night vision equipment. This property always remains in the LESO property book because it still belongs to and is accountable to DoD. When a law enforcement agency no longer wants the controlled property, it must be returned to DLA’s LESO for proper disposition.

Non-controlled property (also called General Property): Consists of common items DLA would sell to the general public, such as office equipment, first aid kits/supplies, hand tools, sleeping bags, computers, and digital cameras. After one year, general property becomes the property of the law enforcement agency. It is no longer subject to the annual inventory requirements and is removed from the LESO database. This general property should be maintained and ultimately disposed of in accordance with provisions in state/territory and local laws that govern public property.

The vast majority of property issued to law enforcement agencies each year is non-controlled. In 2019 for example, 92% of property issued was non-controlled. Normally, small arms weapons make up about 5%, and less than 1% of property issued is tactical vehicles.

What controls or oversight does the 1033 Program have in place?

Program Compliance: As outlined in the Memorandum of Agreement with state coordinators, DLA uses three primary ways to maintain and ensure compliance with all program requirements and property accountability:

  • Annual Inventory: The MOA requires each state/territory to complete a 100% certified annual inventory each fiscal year.
  • Program Compliance Reviews (PCRs): DLA’s LESO conducts a biennial federal-level compliance review on participating states where LESO personnel physically visits the states and inventories property of selected law enforcement agencies.
  • State Coordinator Reviews: On an annual basis, the state must conduct state-level compliance reviews of at least 5% of law enforcement agencies that have property obtained via the program.
  • Suspensions due to non-compliance: If a state coordinator or law enforcement agency fails to comply with any terms of the MOA, federal statute, regulation, or State Plan of Operation (SPO), the state and/or law enforcement agency may be place on restricted or suspended status or may be terminated from the program.
  • Restricted: A specified period of time in which a state/territory or law enforcement agency is restricted from receiving an item or commodity due to isolated issues with the identified commodity. Restricted status may also include restricting an agency from all controlled property. Restricted status is commonly used for agencies that have active consent decrees from the Department of Justice.
  • Suspension: A specified period of time in which an entire state or law enforcement agency is prohibited from requesting or receiving additional property through the program.
  • Termination: The removal of a state or law enforcement agency from participating in the program. The state coordinator and/or identified law enforcement agencies will transfer or turn in all controlled property previously received through the program at the expense of the state and/or the law enforcement agency.
  • Local governing body oversight: As part of the application process, law enforcement agencies must receive approval from their relevant local governing body to request and obtain controlled property, which is required by 10 U.S. Code 2576a. Per the statute, law enforcement agencies must certify:
    • They have obtained the authorization of the relevant local governing authority (city council, mayor, etc.).
    • They have adopted publicly available protocols for the appropriate use of controlled property, the supervision of such use, and the evaluation of the effectiveness of such use, including auditing and accountability policies.
  • Controlled-equipment training: In 2015, Congress amended 10 USC 2576a to make it clear that each individual agency acquiring controlled equipment is responsible for training its personnel in the proper use, maintenance and repair. The law requires each law enforcement agency to certify on an annual basis that it provides annual training to relevant personnel on the maintenance, sustainment and appropriate use of controlled property.
  • Department of Justice coordination: DLA’s LESO coordinates with the Department of Justice (DoJ) to identify law enforcement agencies that are under DoJ investigation or under a consent decree. LESO uses DoJ data to validate authenticity and eligibility of law enforcement agencies and notifies DoJ on applications for enrollment in the program, on law enforcement agency suspensions/terminations, and on allocations of weapons, tactical vehicles, and aircraft.
  • Transparency through public data base: DLA’s LESO maintains a public website page that links to a spreadsheet with the status of property issued to law enforcement agencies, listed by state. The spreadsheet serves as a quarterly snapshot of all LESO/1033 Program equipment currently under the control of a law enforcement agency.

Acronyms Reference

  • DLA = Defense Logistics Agency
  • DoD = Department of Defense
  • DoJ = Department of Justice
  • LESO = Law Enforcement Support Office
  • MOA = Memorandum of Agreement
  • SPO = State Plan of Operation
  • MRAP = Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected
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