From the city of Marshfield: Police Chief Rick Gramza resigns
The following statement was issued by the city of Marshfield the morning of March 4:
On Thursday, March 4, 2021, Chief of Police Rick Gramza resigned as Chief of Police of the City of Marshfield Police Department. City of Marshfield City Administrator Steve Barg is pleased that the City no longer must expend tremendous costs and emotional toll on witnesses to have Chief Gramza’s removal hearing before the City of Marshfield Fire & Police Commission.
City Administrator Steve Barg will request that the Fire & Police Commission withdraw his charges against Chief Gramza, which would otherwise have resulted in a multi-day evidentiary hearing before the Commission.
According to Administrator Barg, “our Police Department, city staff, and our community deserve to move on and move forward. Chief Gramza’s conduct was disturbing and disdainful to me, and it took a heavy toll on our employees. As I said previously, I was deeply saddened that it came to this where I had to file charges seeking Chief Gramza’s removal. Chief Gramza’s resignation allows the City to move forward and for the Police Department to focus on its continued efforts to provide effective law enforcement services for our community.”
The Fire and Police Commission discipline removal hearing process created by the State Legislature, as identified in Wisconsin Statute Section 62.13(5), is an exceptionally expensive and costly public hearing process for municipal employers. In this case, that statutory process would have forced employees and members of the community to testify as to highly personal and sensitive information at a public hearing.
According to Administrator Barg, “we appreciate those employees who came forward and those who cooperated with our efforts to understand what was occurring under Chief Gramza’s leadership. None of those employees should be subjected to any retaliation. They did the right thing by expressing their concerns and cooperating, and we are committed to protecting our staff from retaliation.”
The City recognizes that some may be disappointed that the City is not pressing forth with the proceedings. Under the terms of an agreement, the City is providing Chief Gramza with a separation benefit, which the City believes will avoid greater litigation costs that the City would incur in litigating the charges in front of the Commission and from any post-hearing appeals.
This difficult but thoughftul and pragmatic choice protects those individuals involved in that proceeding and saves the City significant costs. The City can now focus on its remedial efforts to ensure all employees understand that misconduct discovered is unacceptable and has no place in the City.
In November 2020, members of the Marshfield Police Officers Bargaining Unit filed a unanimous vote of no confidence against Chief Gramza. City Administrator Barg shared their conclusion that Chief Gramza cannot effectively lead the City of Marshfield Police Department.
On Tuesday, December 29, 2020, the City Council and Mayor authorized City Administrator Barg to file Charges with the Commission and to seek Chief Gramza’s removal. On Wednesday,
December 30, 2020, Administrator Barg filed administrative charges seeking the removal of City of Marshfield Chief of Police Rick Gramza.
See full story in the March 10 print edition of the Hub City Times.