As we report in today’s edition, former Minocqua police officer and current Adams police chief Todd Hanson is in the news again.
This fellow grabs more than his fair share of headlines, and for all the wrong reasons. We won’t judge him on the current controversy – his suspension as police chief – while it is under investigation, except to say he is constantly in trouble.
At the very least, it doesn’t look good when the county sheriff escorts you out the door. It doesn’t look good when you immediately have to surrender your office keys.
Which leads us to say, We told you so.
We’ve been reporting on the antics of Mr. Hanson for nearly a decade now. We reported when he destroyed public records and was reprimanded.
We reported when key police records went missing – or were never created, though they were important – on a major investigation headed by Mr. Hanson. We reported when Mr. Hanson used bullying and strong-arm tactics to try and intimidate a citizen.
Last year we reported on the attempted mutiny by his staff down in Adams. And today, we report on the incredulous act of charging equipment purchases to the town of Minocqua – without approval and when he knew he was leaving the force, with some purchases coming after he was relieved of duty.
Of course, he never repaid the town.
Now there’s a suspension, which should come as no surprise. As we went to press, this incident was still being investigated, so one cannot presume any guilty action.
But the point can be made that Mr. Hanson’s career leaves a trail of troubling behavior. And almost all of it was on the public record – in this newspaper – before the city of Adams ever hired him.
In Minocqua, too, Mr. Hanson was able to hold on for years because some people simply ignored or didn’t believe the facts we reported. Indeed, we sometimes took more heat for our stories than Mr. Hanson did for his conduct.
We were accused by some of conducting a vendetta against Mr. Hanson and others. In the minds of some, we were the guilty party, not the people misbehaving.
And yet, our stories have stood the test of time. In our major investigations, none have been retracted or corrected. We have pursued open records – and triumphed in court when we had to get them – and we have used those records in our reporting to stay true to the evidence within them, popular or not.
We say all of this not to be smug, or to yell ‘we told you so’ in an arrogant way. We do so because had people heeded the real record, the people of Adams might have been spared the misery of Mr. Hanson. And we do so, too, because the tired, ugly word ‘vendetta’ has emerged again in response to some of our current reporting.
We would simply like to remind people that our mission is the same as it has always been – to lay out the facts, and let the chips fall where they may. And to point out that our track record is excellent.
When we tell you so, in other words, it is the truth we are telling you; it is the facts of a case. Nothing more, nothing less.
Journalism, in a word.