Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pewaukee officer demoted beacuse of inappropriate behavior with suspect

A City of Pewaukee police seargeant was demoted to patrol officer and suspended for 15 days without pay on Monday, October 26 for attempting to date a criminal suspect and lying about it. This demotion will cost Officer Cher Sneider almost $10,000 in gross annual salary.

The administrative sanctions were the result of an internal investigation by the City of Pewaukee’s Police And Fire Commission of administrative charges against her, regarding an off-duty incident on May 10, 2008.

According to the complaint, Sgt. Sneider had an on-duty patrol officer access a secure police database to get Sneider the phone number of a man under investigation for suspicion of illegal activity, including drugs. That man had a known criminal history with the City of Pewaukee police department.

Sneider, who thought the suspect was “hot,” and wanted to go out with him, made four calls with her personal cell phone May 10, 2008, another call and a visit to the man’s house the next day, and two more calls May 17, 2008. She denied trying to have a relationship with him, saying she contacted him as part of a noise complaint investigation.

Commission members said that Sneider’s testimony was unconvincing, citing the late night phone calls she made to the suspect’s residence. As part of their seven page decision, they said the following:

"It is not credible that Sneider would be making legitimate and necessary police-related calls...while out visiting a succession of taverns on a Saturday night and drinking alcoholic beverages. It is not believable that Sneider would pursue this issue off duty as late as 12:06 a.m. on Sunday morning, May 11, 2008, which is the time she made her last call to the Doe residence."

Pewaukee Police Department rules state that officers engage in professional conduct, refrain for associating with people of questionable character, use city resources for work, and “speak the truth at all times.”

A separate insubordination charge against Sneider was dismissed by the commission. That charge stemmed from her request to remove a laptop computer mount bracket from then-Chief Gary Bach's squad car to have it installed in her car. Meister earlier had issued an order that nothing be removed from Bach's squad, and Sneider was accused of ignoring the mandate.

The commission said it is disappointing that department personnel and commission time was spent looking into the laptop mount issue.

"The commission is concerned that this situation is symptomatic of poor management, system-wide disregard for authority and continuing deterioration in the chain of command with the police department. This matter should have been handled internally," the commission said.

Sneider's attorney, Gordon McQuillen, says his client may appeal the demotion.

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