An outside agency would be the best choice to investigate an incident like the recent downtown Green Bay arrest that spawned a controversy after a video was posted to YouTube, the head of the state’s largest police union said Tuesday.
“We would probably suggest that it be done by an outside agency,” said Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. He also said it is important for the department to show support for its officers.
The video shows Green Bay officer Derek Wicklund arresting Joshua D. Wenzel, 29, of Caledonia outside a South Washington Street tavern shortly after closing time on April 19.
The video shows Wenzel, who was ticketed to appear in city court on charges of disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, being grabbed by an officer, pushed against a car, taken to the ground and punched by Wicklund.
Palmer spoke on Tuesday with members of the Press-Gazette Media Editorial Board. WPPA does not represent Green Bay officers, but represents about 10,000 police officers across Wisconsin.
The Green Bay Police are investigating the incident internally. Police have said they will interview witnesses and review dash-camera video and other recordings of the arrest and the events leading up to it.
Department officials couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday afternoon, but have indicated that their probe could wrap up this week.
The incident has prompted controversy, including a protest and a counter-demonstration in downtown Green Bay. About a dozen people protested near police headquarters on May 2, calling for Wicklund to be fired. Nearby, about two dozen people including retired officers and family members stood in support of police.
Earlier, the union representing Wicklund and Green Bay’s other officers came out in support of Wicklund. The Green Bay Professional Police Association called his actions “a justifiable, legal and lawful arrest.”
The incident occurred outside Stir-Ups Parlor & Saloon at 125 S. Washington St. shortly after the bar closed.
— firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @PGDougSchneider