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Green Bay officer in arrest tape had 14 complaints

  • Associated Press
  • June 29, 2014 - 3:35 PM

GREEN BAY, Wis. — A Green Bay police officer involved in a high-profile arrest in April received a total of 14 citizen complaints since he joined the department 12 years ago, including five allegations of excessive force, a media analysis found.

However, internal investigations found no evidence to substantiate any of the complaints against Officer Derek Wicklund, some of which were dismissed as "false" or "unsubstantiated," according to a Press-Gazette Media report (http://gbpg.net/1og1ySc ).

Wicklund became the center of controversy in April when a video posted on YouTube showed him shoving a man against a parked car, throwing him to the ground and punching him. Wicklund has been moved to administrative duty during an investigation.

As a Green Bay officer Wicklund has had 14 complaints filed against him. He also had 22 commendations from 2002 to 2008.

The complaints against Wicklund include allegations from a drunken-driving suspect that the officer slammed him into a car hard enough to injure his ribs. Christopher Piepenburg, then 38, also accused Wicklund of filing a police report that had "many contradictions."

Investigators concluded the allegation was "a false complaint." Other complaints, such as one from a bar owner who said Wicklund was pushing people needlessly, were declared "not sustained" or "unsubstantiated."

Capt. William Galvin, who has supervised Wicklund, said the officer is proactive — a trait that leads to more arrests but also more complaints.

"If something was happening to my family, that's the kind of guy I want out there," Galvin said. "Could he have better people skills? Maybe. But he was (assigned to) my district, and I want him back."

Not all of Wicklund's public files have been released. The city attorney's office provided records related to eight of the 14 complaints but the city has not provided documents describing the other six complaints or their outcomes.

A 2006 report by the U.S. Justice Department found that local police agencies received 7.5 abuse-of-force complaints per year for every 100 sworn officers they employ. Larger departments tend to receive more complaints. About 1 in 12 of the excessive-force complaints was found to be legitimate, the justice department found.

Green Bay's police force of about 180 sworn officers received about 35 complaints per year, police Lt. Chad Ramos said. The most common complaints include a lack of courtesy and excessive force.

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