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Parties agree to extend timelines for grievance filed after Marshfield Police Officer fired

(WSAW)
Published: Feb. 14, 2020 at 7:05 PM CST
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Union representatives and a fired Marshfield police officer met with the police chief Friday to discuss the grievance filed against the department.

Police Chief Rick Gramza told 7 Investigates he is limited in what he can say but said the meeting was held, not for the purposes of reinstating former officer Jared Beauchamp, but to share information and for the union to state their position and concern.

Wisconsin Professional Police Association Executive Director Jim Palmer said they and the chief agreed to extend the timelines to continue a dialogue about the grievance and any possible resolution.

Marshfield's police grievance procedure shows that even if the parties did not agree to extend the timeline for certain steps to happen, the process would take at least through the end of March. The next step would be going through arbitration, which would take several more weeks.

"While we will continue our efforts to resolve this amicably, we are not terribly optimistic that the chief will reverse his decision," Palmer said. "As such, we still intend to take our case directly to the city's personnel committee at an upcoming meeting and otherwise prepare for litigation."

He said they still have plans to attend the next city personnel meeting.

Marshfield Police Department's fitness policy became effective May 1, 2019. It requires officers to "pass an annual job-specific fitness test to measure their ability to perform necessary minimum physical requirements for specific job tasks." In the policy, it does allow officers who fail the test to be placed on light-duty at the discretion of the chief and to re-take the test within 90 days. It also speaks to accomodations for specific medical restrictions.

"...Regardless of whether someone takes a test once, twice, or 100 times, the law requires that the standard for passage relates to the essential functions of the job," he said.

Palmer argues the test does not relate to specific job duties as the law for these kind of test requires.

"The chief said that people expect officers to run towards danger, and we agree. Jared has done that his whole career. But under the law, the chief must be able to justify why one specific time is satisfactory and another isn't," he continued. "He has to ensure that the standard doesn't impose a disparate impact upon older officers, or female officers, for that matter."

He mentioned Beauchamp has become aware of a few other departments in the area that may have interest in hiring him as an officer.

"While that could be gratifying for him, and might represent a pretty strong rebuke strong rebuke of the [sic] Chief Gramza, Jared genuinely wishes to close out his career serving the same community that he has for more than two decades," Palmer said.

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