UPDATE: Phillips Police Chief Will Retire

By: Clare Kaley Email
By: Clare Kaley Email
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Update 7/15

City of Phillips mayor Charles Peterson tells NewsChannel 7 Chief David Sonntag will retire. An agreement was made between the City and the Chief in a meeting with a Madison mediator Thursday, the mayor says.

Peterson says while his opinion does not matter, the agreement works well for the City, as well for Sonntag. Per the agreement, neither side will go on-camera for media interviews.

The search for a new chief will not begin until Sonntag officially retires. We're expecting to learn more details about this when records are made publicly available, Thursday (7/17).

Update 3/7

Phillips Police Chief David Sonntag has been placed on paid leave, after a complaint filed by the city's Mayor (see below or the documents to the right of this article for details). Sonntag will stay on leave until a hearing on the complaint, which is expected to take place in May at the earliest. A hearing that had been scheduled for March 11th has been cancelled.

In the hearing, the City's Police Review Committee will hear arguments from an attorney for the Mayor, and an attorney for Chief Sonntag. That evidentiary hearing is expected to take at least five days, according to documents NewsChannel 7 obtained from the City of Phillips.

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Update 3/6

Earlier this week, NewsChannel 7 reported a complaint has been filed by the City of Phillips Mayor, Charles Peterson, calling for the Chief of Police, David Sonntag's removal from office. In that complaint, the chief is accused of tampering with mail, pulling over a citizen in his personal vehicle, and falsifying information that lead to a suspect unlawfully being held in jail.

Now, we have learned this is not the first time Sonntag has had problems as Chief of Police. He was also investigated when he was the head of the Mazomanie Department.

While police chief at the Mazomanie Police Department in the 1990s, David Sonntag was accused of drinking alcohol before starting a shift, and selling confiscated guns from the department's evidence locker to a Milwaukee gun shop. The documents obtained by NC7 outline that Chief Sonntag has found himself under fire before.

The 38-page complaint from 1999 details a number of reasons the Village of Mazomanie did not believe Sonntag was fit to be chief of police anymore. It talks about Sonntag drinking at a local tavern until just a few hours before he was scheduled to being an on-call shift at the department. State law says officer cannot drink eight hours before they are expected on duty.

The complaint also says Sonntag sold about 40 guns, which had been confiscated by his department by criminals, to a Milwaukee-area gun shop. Some of those guns were supposed to be kept as evidence or sent to the State Crime Lab for analysis.

Another complaint says that after Sonntag was asked to do an inventory of items in the department's evidence locker, he instructed two officers to take about 1,000 pieces of evidence to the local dump, and burn it.

He was also accused of letting a convicted criminal go through the department's records and shred documents, without any sort of supervision - another violation of the law.

We called city council members from the City of Phillips to see if any were around when Sonntag was appointed Chief of Police, or if they know about his past in Mazomanie. Many stated they were not around when the chief was appointed, and others simply had "no comment".

NC7 is in the process of trying to obtain his hiring records to see just who may have known about his past.


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