How do we view the role of police in the City of Eau Claire?
The Eau Claire Police Department strives to be a trusted police organization that ensures a safe and engaged community with an exceptional quality of life. This vision provides department members practical guidance on who we want to be as an organization and defines what success looks like.
Our values explain how we are going to achieve these goals, shape our organizational culture and reflect what is important to us. Our values are Integrity, Dignity, Transparency, Compassion, Commitment, and Professionalism.
We want to make certain our officers view their role as members of the community who are invested in making this a better place. The officer’s role is that of a community partner and guardian, not one of a para-military force.
What steps are in place to ensure the best police officers are hired?
The Eau Claire Police Department’s police officer hiring practices are overseen by the Eau Claire Police and Fire Commission (PFC), our civilian oversight board. We stress high standards and strong scrutiny during our hiring processes. Under the direction of the PFC, we search for police officer candidates who are community-minded and share our department’s values of Integrity, Compassion, Commitment, Dignity, Professionalism, and Transparency. We prioritize communication and problem-solving skills in officer candidates over tactical aptitude or procedural knowledge. We can teach tactical aptitude and procedural knowledge. It is more important to find a candidate who cares about the community and can solve problems by working with others. By maintaining these high standards, we are ensuring people who are brought into our organization have the right motivation.
The process of becoming a police officer for the City of Eau Claire often takes several months. The stages include: Submit application > Written exam and physical agility testing > Interview with Police and Fire Commission, who develop a Hiring Eligibility List > Interview with Chief and other staff > Background investigation > Further testing, including polygraph exam, psychological exam, occupational physical exam, and/or chemical testing. Each officer hired with the Eau Claire Police Department must successfully complete each stage prior to moving onto the next stage in the hiring process. An applicant cannot move forward in the hiring process if the Police and Fire Commission does not place them on the Hiring Eligibility List.
What type of training do our police officers receive pertaining to bias, anti-racism, and fair and impartial policing?
New officers, who complete Law Enforcement Academy Training through Chippewa Valley Technical College, receive nearly 40 hours of training specifically on fair and impartial policing practices, bias, ethics, and cultural competency. Once hired, the Eau Claire Police Department provides additional annual in-service training to all officers on implicit bias, fair and impartial policing, and community-oriented policing practices. This year we began a partnership with the University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusivity to provide additional training to all of our officers.
What type of de-escalation training do our police officers receive?
The Eau Claire Police Department was first introduced to Crisis Intervention Team Training (CIT) training in 2012 and have continued training officers and telecommunicators in CIT since that time. CIT focuses on communication principles, including de-escalation and active listening. In 2016, several of our officers became Certified CIT Coordinators through the International Crisis Intervention Team Course. The Eau Claire Police Department follows the Memphis Model of Crisis Intervention training. This is a nationally recognized and evidence-based training curriculum that emphasizes ongoing community partnerships, ownership, and additional follow up training. Our training has been validated and supported by strong partnerships with Wisconsin National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), NAMI – Chippewa Valley, Mayo Clinic Health Systems Behavioral Health Staff, Department of Human Services Staff, UWEC – Psychology Department Staff, and local support groups such as the Wellness Shack and Positive Avenues. Members from these organizations have supported our CIT training by advising, presenting, and teaching on CIT principles.
What Use of Force policies do our police officers adhere to?
The Eau Claire Police Department complies both with internal policies (see Department Policy tab under Public Information for full policy manual) and Defensive and Arrest Tactics curriculum developed by Wisconsin Department of Justice Law Enforcement Standards Bureau.
Eau Claire Police Department Policy 300 is specific to the Use of Force and states: “Officers shall use only that amount of force that reasonably appears necessary given the facts and circumstances perceived by the officer at the time of the event to accomplish a legitimate law enforcement purpose.”
There are many additional categories and details within the Use of Force policies and curriculum. Five categories of Intervention Options are taught to our police officers: presence, dialogue, control alternatives, protective alternatives, and deadly force. The use of verbalization is strongly emphasized as the most preferable option to de-escalate or gain control of a situation rather than using physical force. Unfortunately, verbalization does not resolve every situation. Deadly force is always a last resort. Before officers can use deadly force, he/she must reasonably believe that all other options have been exhausted or would be ineffective.
With any Use of Force, regardless of the type, by a member of this department, there are policies in place that mandate prompt documentation of the Use of Force. In this documentation, the officer must articulate the factors he/she perceived and why he/she believed the Use of Force was reasonable under the circumstances. Our policies also require Use of Force reviews. When an officer utilizes deadly force, an outside agency conducts the criminal investigation and an additional internal comprehensive policy compliance review is completed. These completed reviews are then released to the public to ensure full transparency occurs.
Is there a policy regarding an officer’s duty to intervene if they observe the use of excessive force?
Yes. Eau Claire Police Department Policy 300.2.1 is specific to the Duty to Intercede and states: “Any officer present and observing another officer using force that is clearly beyond that which is objectively reasonable under the circumstances shall, when in a position to do so, intercede to prevent the use of unreasonable force. An officer who observes another employee use force that exceeds the degree of force permitted by law should promptly report these observations to a supervisor.”
What is the status of our police officers using Body Worn Cameras?
The Eau Claire Police Department, City Staff, and City Council continue to work towards the implementation of body-worn cameras as another tool to ensure officer accountability. This is a large-scale technology project that involves integration with the in-squad camera system and the interview room camera system. In addition to these considerations, the project requires expanded video storage capabilities and additional staff to manage this data. The Eau Claire Police Department, City Staff, and City Council will continue to work towards implementation of this project.
Currently, the Eau Claire Police Department has equipped marked patrol cars with Mobile Video Recording (MVR) systems and each individual officer with audio recording devices to provide records of events and assist officers in the performance of their duties. Policy 422.4 requires activation of the recording systems in almost all contacts with the public. Command staff reviews video footage from in-squad cameras and body worn audio. This is then used as a teaching tool to reward appropriate behavior and, when necessary, administer remedial training and/or discipline. Part of this supervisory review ensures officers activate and utilize the camera systems consistent with department policy. These recordings also constitute public records and may be requested for review by the public.
What is the process for citizen complaints?
Members of the public may make complaints in writing, by email, by web form, in person, or by telephone. Citizen complaint forms will be made readily available upon request. When a citizen makes a complaint, Eau Claire Police Department policy requires that we contact the complainant, listen to their concerns, and complete an investigation. Once the investigation is completed it will be labeled as substantiated, unsubstantiated, unfounded, exonerated, or that there was a failure in our department policy. If the complaint is found to be substantiated, a determination is made by the Chief of Police on the level of discipline. All citizen complaint investigations are retained in the officer’s personnel file. The release of the record and complaint information is subject to state and federal law on public employee records.
Our discipline procedures and complaint investigation procedures are overseen by the Eau Claire Police and Fire Commission (PFC), our civilian oversight board. A community member can make a complaint directly to the PFC. The PFC is also recourse if the complainant is dissatisfied with the outcome of a complaint made directly to the Eau Claire Police Department. The PFC can require additional investigation and steps can be taken to file formal charges against the officer, up to and including, termination.
What type of citizen and operational oversight exist for our police officers?
The Eau Claire Police and Fire Commission (PFC) is the Eau Claire Police Department’s civilian oversight board. The PFC Board is comprised of citizens from the City of Eau Claire, appointed by the Eau Claire City Council. The PFC provides direct guidance to the Eau Claire Police Department with respect to the hiring, promotion, and discipline of our sworn personnel, as described above. The PFC holds bi-monthly meetings that are open to the public, and may also meet on an as-needed basis.
The Eau Claire Police Department’s operational oversight is through the City Manager. The City Manager directs the daily operations of the City to accomplish the goals and objectives set by the City Council. The Eau Claire Police Department is one of the departments within the City, and operational oversight of this department is a role of the City Manager.
What is the budget for our police department?
During fiscal year 2020, our budget is set at $19,040,300. This budget includes wages and benefits for employees, contractual services, supplies, fixed charges, and utilities. Contractual services included are annual computer software fees, building and vehicle rental fees, and training. Some of the supplies included are office supplies, uniforms, medical supplies (i.e. Narcan), repair parts for equipment, and evidence packaging materials. Fixed charges included are vehicle and liability insurance.
One unique characteristic to the structure of our department and budget is the Communications Center is included. This is not very common with other municipal law enforcement agencies. The 2020 budget for our Communications Center alone is $2,622,700 or about 14% of our total budget. Eau Claire County does provide reimbursement of 70% towards Communication Center expenses.
Below you can view a table, which includes a breakdown of our budget for the past few years.
| Wages and Benefits
| Contractual Services
| Materials and Supplies
| Fixed Charges
How does our budget compare to other law enforcement agencies?
The comparison of our budget to other law enforcement agencies in the State of Wisconsin can be done in a per capita manner. Below is a chart showing how the Eau Claire Police Department compares to other agencies in Wisconsin.
How many employees do we have, and how does this compare within Wisconsin or nationally?
Currently, our police department has 100 sworn employees, 15 administrative/clerical employees, 25 Communication Center employees, 13 temporary part-time employees, and 8 non-sworn volunteers. When examining these numbers in the format of the number of sworn employees to the population of Eau Claire, we currently have approximately 1.47 officers per 1,000 population. The average for Wisconsin is approximately 2.05 officers per 1,000 population. The national average is approximately 2.2 officers per 1,000 population. Below is a chart showing how the Eau Claire Police Department compares to other agencies in Wisconsin.
The above information does not mean the Eau Claire Police Department cannot be improved upon. This information is intended to frame how the Eau Claire Police Department operates within the Eau Claire community, so we can continue the process of positive change. It is our goal to continue to work with others towards meaningful action that builds trust in our community.