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Status of internal investigation of Grand Chute Police officer accused of derogatory social media posts released

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GRAND CHUTE, Wis. (WFRV) – Grand Chute Police Chief Greg Peterson has released a statement in response to allegations that an officer had posted numerous derogatory posts on social media. A memorandum with details on the investigation has also been released.

On June 30, WFRV Local 5 first brought you the story of racists and homophobic tweets from a current Grand Chute Police officer surfaced.

In a statement released Thursday, Chief Peterson says the department was notified through an anonymous tip regarding the posts on May 31. The tip included a link to a Facebook page created by the reporting person for the purpose of sharing the offensive posts.

“The posts were reviewed and a determination was made that the content was, in fact, highly offensive, as well as racist and homophobic in nature,” according to Chief Peterson’s statement. “To say I was shocked by the content would be an understatement.”

Chief Peterson goes on to say that their “commitment to a comprehensive investigation led to a unique challenge due to the public manner in which the complaint was conveyed to us; that being through a public Facebook post.” He says that the department knew that the public nature of the matter would draw increasing interest in the matter, as would the demand for answers and that he acknowledges the answers have taken longer to be shared than they had wished.

Chief Peterson says the delay in publicizing answers was due to three reasons: the person who provided the anonymous tip “chose to stop responding to our private messages shortly after the initial contact, the “various time-consuming aspects of the investigation,” and statutory obligations, such as restrictions regarding the release before arriving at a final disposition.

Chief Peterson’s full letter can be viewed below.

According to the memorandum released by Grand Chute Police, “the reporting party showed that they have possessed this information for an extended period of time. The reporter referenced that they have known [Officer Bryce La Luzerne] for a ‘very long time’ and that they have ‘known about the tweets for a while.’ The memorandum states that the person that gave the tip “stated that they have not personally witnessed any concerning behavior from La Luzerne over the past ‘5-6 years.'”

Investigators say La Luzerne “has admitted to writing these posts prior to his employment” and “is apologetic for his behavior.” He told the department that a number of the posts “contained words and phrases from popular songs which, in some cases, included the ‘N word.'” La Luzerne also expressed that these posts do not represent his personal views.”

When questioned “about his use of the phrase ‘The Boogaloo’ on an Instagram post,” La Luzerne reported, “he used this phrase in reference to the protection of gun rights.” He added that “he was not aware of the connection between ‘The Boogaloo’ and white supremacy views.”

According to the memorandum, during La Luzerne’s hiring process, 11 other individuals “reported that they never observed La Luzerne display any bias or prejudice towards someone based upon their sex, race, religion, age, or sexual preference.” When the Grand Chute Police Department reviewed La Luzerne’s Facebook account, they “did not find anything inappropriate or distasteful.”

Investigators say that “La Luzerne’s ex-fiancé revealed that she believed the things he wrote in high school were not intended to be offensive and were consistent with routine language used in the rural school they attended. She added that La Luzerne had more exposure to diversity throughout his college years and discontinued the use of offensive words near the beginning of his college career.”

In addition, investigators highlighted “a conversation with a concerned citizen who knew La Luzerne in high school revealed that she felt La Luzerne was an upstanding person and did not have racist or homophobic views. This woman informed me that she is African-American and would have remembered if La Luzerne possessed racist views.”

Reviews of La Luzerne’s use of force incidents, citizen complaint history, citation and arrest history, and department Internet search history did not reveal any evidence of hate speech, racial vias, racist views, or extremism.

The memorandum includes preliminary and tentative findings, under which investigators say:

La Luzerne has admitted to posting content on Twitter prior to his employment at the Grand Chute Police Department which is offensive to many. There is no evidence that this behavior continued during the time he has been employed by our agency, with one exception. This exception is the Instagram post from October 2019 which references “The Boogaloo.” La Luzerne has provided an explanation that this post was intended to express support for the constitutional right to bear arms and was not intended to suggest support for racist views. La Luzerne’s explanation was supported by identifying two places where he learned of the phrase, both of which had used it in the context of constitutional second amendment rights.

The Grand Chute Police Department says the investigation remains ongoing with updates expected.

The full memorandum can be found below:

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