On Tuesday evening, March 26 the City of Bloomer Police Commission held a disciplinary hearing to consider a complaint filed by Dean S. Gullickson and additional charges brought by the commission against Bloomer Police Chief Jared Zwiefelhofer. The hearing started at 5:30 p.m. and testimony and closing arguments wrapped up at 9:46 p.m. when the police commission voted to go into closed session to determine what if any disciplinary action should be brought against Zwiefelhofer.
Prior to going into closed session the Bloomer Police Commission’s attorney, Mindy Dale, who presided over the hearing, announced that the police commission would announce its decision in a written press release and no announcement would be made that night.
On Wednesday evening, March 27, the Bloomer Advance received the written decision of the police commission which states:
“After careful consideration of the facts and arguments presented, the Commission rendered a decision finding that Chief Jared Zwiefelhofer violated department policies when providing false information to a Wisconsin conservation warden during the warden’s investigation into alleged hunting violations by Chief Zwiefelhofer and by failing to obey the law when (1) hunting deer with a rifle prior to the start of the gun deer season; (2) placing, using or hunting with more than two gallons of bait for whitetail deer; and (3) possessing a loaded firearm on an ATV.
“Based on the totality of the circumstances, the Commission has ordered that Chief Zwiefelhofer serve a two (2) week unpaid disciplinary suspension,” said the written statement.
Rifle Not Departmental Property
During testimony Tuesday, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Lt. warden Russell Fell said that they determined that Zwiefelhofer had initially shot the deer legally with a crossbow and then shot the deer with a rifle. Zwiefelhofer testified that he used the rifle to try to expedite the recovery of the deer.
During the DNR’s investigation Zwiefelhofer told wardens that he carries the rifle on patrol as Chief of Police for the City of Bloomer. Local television stations and daily newspapers read that statement in the report and jumped to the conclusion that the rifle in question had been issued by the Bloomer Police department. The Bloomer Police Commission then charged Zwiefelhofer with misuse of departmental property.
However, under oath Tuesday night, Zwiefelhofer testified that he personally bought the weapon in question and paid to have it set up to be mounted in a squad car out of his own pocket. He said he did so because at the time the department only had one rifle for its two squads. The department later purchased a second rifle, but Zwiefelhofer still uses his rifle for marksmanship qualifying and when he responds to a call from home in his personal vehicle.
The police commission dismissed its charge of misuse of departmental property because it found that the evidence presented did not establish that the rifle was departmental property.
Discipline Not Warranted On Gullickson Complaint
With regard to the complaint brought by Gullickson, the “commission found that while Chief Zwiefelhofer had engaged in conduct unbecoming an officer when making negative comments about former DNR Warden Dean Gullickson, discipline on that issue was not warranted.”