Hortonville Police Commission suspends embattled chief

Hortonville Police Chief Michael Sullivan
(Photo: WBAY)

HORTONVILLE, Wis. (WBAY) – The Village of Hortonville Police Commission has handed down an eight-week suspension for embattled Police Chief Michael Sullivan.

However, Sullivan is only required to serve two weeks of that punishment.

The Commission ruled that Chief Sullivan was “culpable on some but not all elements of the charges” against him.

Chief Sullivan was accused by the Village Board of violating employee rights, making discriminatory comments against women and minorities, and not being truthful during an internal investigation. He’s been on paid administrative leave since October.

Village Board President Traci Martens called for Sullivan to dismissed from his duties as Hortonville Police Chief.

On Dec. 21-22, the Hortonville Police Commission held public evidentiary hearings on the allegations against Sullivan. Here’s what they decided.

  • Sullivan will be suspended for two consecutive weeks beginning Feb. 16.
  • If the Commission hears of any misconduct or retaliation by the chief, it will impose the additional six weeks of unpaid suspension to be served within a year’s time.

The Commission ruled that chief the made inappropriate and offensive comments, used a statewide police system for personal use, interfered with employee labor rights, and discussed the investigation when he wasn’t supposed to.

The Commission did not find Sullivan inappropriately disclosed confidential information or lied during an internal investigation.

The Hortonville Police Commission explained their decision for the suspension.

“Our consideration in the Chief’s admirable record of service, our confident anticipation of his renewed and improved leadership, and our judgement of the department and our community causes us to temper the penalty we impose,” said Hortonville Police Commission.

“I admitted to what I did wrong, and throughout the hearing I admitted to what I did wrong, nobody’s perfect, I made mistakes, it’s not an excuse, I did make mistakes,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan believes communication with the village administration will be the key to avoiding another situation like this.

“We’re going to have to sit down and have communication sessions going ‘okay I didn’t realize this how can I make sure in the future I do realize this’,” said Sullivan.

Sullivan says he’s first day back on duty is March 1st.

CLICK HERE to read the Police Commission’s ruling in this case. (opens pdf)

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