This past December, the Oneida County Sheriff's Office disciplined two sergeants for failing to report "matters of major importance" to the sheriff in a timely fashion, in this case incidents related to an affair the two married officers were having.
Both sergeant Anton Keelin and sergeant Sara Wolosek received seven-day suspensions.
The affair had raised what sheriff's office documents called "calls and complaints" to sheriff Grady Hartman about the relationship, at least some coming from within the department.
The investigation of the two focused on potential intimate behavior at an out-of-town conference at a time before Keelin had been promoted to a rank equal to that of Wolosek, creating a prohibited supervisor-subordinate relationship, and whether the two had inappropriately fraternized while on duty. Misuse of departmental vehicles was also probed.
On one level, the affair highlighted ongoing discord within the department and had fueled a lot of internal discussion.
"I then told Sgt. Keelin that sheriff Hartman has received ongoing verbal and written communication indicating the relationship between Sgt. Keelin and Sgt. Wolosek started prior to Sgt. Keelin's promotion on May 9, 2016, but after Sgt. Wolosek's promotion on Jan. 4, 2014," captain Lloyd Gauthier wrote in a supplemental report dated Oct. 21, 2016, about his investigatory interview with Keelin. "Employees have also been comparing notes regarding the relationship."
On another level, it brings attention - again - to officer conduct while on duty. In particular, the two officers admitted they drove to the other's homes to visit while on duty.
And on yet another level, the investigation underscores the ongoing problem inside the department of misconduct and alleged misconduct - including excessive drinking - while attending out-of-town training events and other conferences.
Out of town training
The latter issue could be most important. As The Lakeland Times has reported, numerous instances of serious misconduct at out-of-town events have surfaced in recent years.
Not least, an alleged assault by then officer Lee Lech of a fellow officer investigated by the department in 2014 allegedly happened at an out-of-town conference. In a separate incident, Lech was accused of fraternizing and drinking with an underage person during an out-of-town training exercise, and of perhaps providing alcohol to that person.
In 2013, the department concluded the underage charge was unfounded after interviewing Lech but the department failed to interview anyone else - not the underage person, and not any witnesses. A Marathon County law enforcement captain, not Hartman, ultimately apologized for the behavior of the Oneida County deputy.
More than that, during the investigation of Lech for the alleged assault, Lech had wondered aloud to another officer - after he was suspended but before he knew of the specific allegations - if it had to do with his behavior at training workshops.
"If this was about me going to training and getting drunk, everybody does that," a witness quoted Lech as saying.
The Wolosek-Keelin case raises more troubling questions about out-of-town behavior. In one instance, in 2016, both Wolosek and Keelin attended Ultimate FTO training (an evidence-based officer training program), though only Keelin was authorized to go.
Wolosek corroborated that information in an Oct. 19, 2016, interview with captain Terri Hook, who was investigating the complaints about the affair. Wolosek confirmed the two had shared a hotel room.
"I asked sergeant Wolosek if there had ever been a time when sergeant Wolosek and sergeant Keelin had been out of town for training or work when only one of them was approved to attend," Hook wrote in her Oct. 24, 2016, report of that interview. "Sergeant Wolosek stated that this had happened recently when sergeant Keelin was attending FTO training in Green Bay in September 2016. When asked, sergeant Wolosek said she had shared a hotel room with sergeant Keelin and had been picked up at her home and rode in the squad with sergeant Keelin and deputy Moermond. When asked if they had requested approval for this, sergeant Wolosek stated they had not."
Of more import was contact between the two at the April 2016 Wisconsin Professional Police Association conference, before Keelin has been promoted to sergeant.
In an Oct. 19 interview with Gauthier, who was also investigating complaints about the affair, Keelin said the relationship went from being a friendship to an intimate one during the WPPA convention, though he thought the convention was in May after he had been promoted.
The next day, in another interview with Gauthier, Keelin described what happened, telling Gauthier they were intoxicated and ended up kissing in the bathroom.
"He stated he doesn't recall (redacted) coming into the bathroom and getting back into his hotel room but each morning he woke up in his room," Gauthier wrote in his Oct. 21 report. "He stated he doesn't remember some of the nights due to being intoxicated."
Wolosek's version of events evolved during several interviews.
Hook had first interviewed Wolosek and Gauthier had first interviewed Keelin on the same day, Oct. 19. Those interviews commenced at around the same time that afternoon, about 4:35 p.m.
In her initial interview with Hook, Wolosek denied anything had happened at the WPPA convention, after Hook asked her what had occurred between her and Keelin.
"Sergeant Wolosek replied that nothing had happened," Hook wrote. "I asked her if something had happened that would have gotten sergeant Keelin's wife upset at him and she replied no, that nothing had happened between them at the WPPA convention."
In that same interview, Hook asked Wolosek to pinpoint when she had first been intimate with Keelin. Wolosek told Hook it was on her birthday after Keelin had been promoted to sergeant, Hook's report states.
"I again clarified that she was telling me that nothing had occurred at the WPPA convention between herself and Sergeant Keelin," Hook wrote. " ... I asked sergeant Wolosek if anything inappropriate had happened that would have upset their spouses. Sergeant Wolosek replied that nothing had happened between herself and sergeant Keelin."
However, 20 minutes after the interview ended, Wolosek wanted to speak to Hook again. It seems in that time period, she had spoken with Keelin and he had told her what 'intimate' meant, according to Hook's report, and, based on that definition, she had been intimate with Keelin at the WPPA convention after all.
"Sergeant Wolosek said they had quickly kissed once at the WPPA convention in the bar," Hook wrote about the second interview that day. "I reiterated to sergeant Wolosek that I had defined intimate as something inappropriate that would upset their spouses. Sergeant Wolosek stated that she did not think and stated it was just once. Sergeant Wolosek stated that they had been drinking at the Hospitality Room and then had gone to the bar. Sergeant Wolosek said Sergeant Keelin, her husband, and a group of other employees had all been in the bar when this had occurred."
Hook asked Wolosek if she had withheld the information about the kiss in the first interview because it would have been at a time when she was a supervisor and Keelin was only a deputy and she was concerned about getting into trouble.
"Sergeant Wolosek said no, that was not why," Hook wrote. "Sergeant Wolosek stated that she did not believe a kiss would have been considered intimate. (Officer Jill) Butzlaff asked Wolosek if it was fair to say her spouse would be upset by her kissing another person. Sergeant Wolosek replied, 'I get what you're saying.'"
Hook's report does not mention that the bathroom location came up in either interview that day with Wolosek.
A little help from their friends
So what transpired in the conversation that day between Keelin and Wolosek, which took place after their respective initial interviews, and how did it come about?
It appears the union representatives for each officer, who had been in Keelin's and Wolosek's interviews with Gauthier and Hook, respectively, were instrumental in engineering the Keelin/Wolosek exchange. After the initial interviews of Keelin and Wolosek, the union representatives compared notes, according to Hook's report.
"After their discussion, (Keelin's union representative) told me he had contacted sergeant Keelin and told sergeant Keelin he should have sergeant Wolosek come back and speak with me as she had not provided the same information that sergeant Keelin had," Hook wrote in her report.
On Nov. 1, Gauthier interviewed Wolosek, and now her story aligned with Keelin's in the report records, with Wolosek saying the two were in the bathroom.
"They kissed and then (redacted) opened the door and she told him he was sick and would be right out," Gauthier wrote of the interview. "She stated that Sgt. Keelin was still in the bathroom with her. She indicated this was the first time they touched physically for sexual pleasure."
Off (duty) but on
Another issue explored in the investigation was whether on-duty fraternization had occurred.
For instance, Hook asked Wolosek whether she had ever stopped at Keelin's home or met with Keelin while on duty.
"Sergeant Wolosek stated she had stopped at his house a couple of times," Hook wrote. "One of these had been for a campfire. She stated one time may have been for as long as an hour. Sergeant Wolosek said no one had been at the residence when she had been at Sergeant Keelin's home beside Sergeant Keelin and herself."
And, had Keelin ever stopped at her house or met with her when Keelin was on duty and she was not, Hook wanted to know.
"Sergeant Wolosek said that there probably was but she did not remember anything specific," Hook wrote. "Sergeant Wolosek stated she and Sergeant Keelin never had sex while on duty."
In his interview with Gauthier, Keelin confirmed what Wolosek had said about visiting while on duty. Gauthier asked if Keelin ever drove to Wolosek's house while on-duty.
"Sgt. Keelin stated, 'More than once, but not many,'" Gauthier wrote. "I asked about Sgt. Wolosek driving to his house while she was on-duty. Sgt. Keelin stated she came to his house more than he went to her house. He stated she did come with Deputy Williams once and then by herself at other times. Sgt. Keelin stated Sgt. Wolosek did come over once during the day when they both were off duty. He said he would send a text stating, 'Having fire stop by if you can.' When asked where his family was during the campfires, Sgt. Keelin stated they were inside the house."
Keelin also said the two never had sex while on duty.
"I asked Sgt. Keelin if there was any touching, kissing, or sexual activity while on-duty and he stated, 'No, we had a rule about nothing on duty,'" Gauthier wrote.
The off duty behavior of on-duty police officers is not new to the sheriff's department, though the nature of the fraternization is decidedly different.
In 2007, an Oneida County officer was disciplined for misconduct while on duty, specifically for allowing deputies under his supervision to gather at various homes and play video games for extended time periods. The department's investigation found evidence that one officer had played video games as many as 10 times for at least two hours each time while on duty.
Others had watched a complete national championship basketball game, as well as movies.
Richard Moore is the author of The New Bossism of the American Left and can be reached at www.rmmoore1.com.