GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (WFRV) Last week a Grand Chute police officer came under fire for what some called racist and homophobic social media posts.
Sunday, protesters gathered at the Grand Chute police department calling for the removal of that officer.
Grand Chute Police Chief Greg Peterson say he empathizes with some of the emotions driving the protest. “I understand what’s driving the anger. We are not in disagreement over that.”
But what the Grand Chute police department and protesters are in disagreement over is whether their officer who posted racist, homophobic and violent tweets should keep his job.
Bill Vanlopik says, “I’m concerned about the safety and welfare of my family members of my friends. If I think that there’s an officer that has racist tendencies and is holding a gun and has the power of the state, that is a concern of me.”
Although counter-protesters exchanged heated words, the Grand Chute police chief says the decision to fire any officer is out of his hands.
Chief Peterson says, “If I reached the conclusion that this officer needs to be terminated, I don’t have the authority to make that decision and I’m not trying to pass the buck. I’m just suggesting that as we talk about independence that things like discipline and termination of a police officer is going to be overseen by this appointed citizen police and fire commission so it gives us some degree of independence.”
Now the biggest struggle for the Grand Chute police department is how to regain the trust of their community.
Chief Peterson says, “We have, depending upon the outcome here, severely damaged that community trust. We’ll have to perhaps go back to the playbook again. If you can help us understand that we’re doing something poorly, or we could do something better, then perhaps you can help us work on improvement and work on change.”
Counter-protesters at that rally denied WFRV Local Five’s request for an interview.
Police Chief Greg Peterson says the investigation of that officer is still ongoing.
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