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Nearly Half of Wisconsin Police Force Resigns in One Day — ‘Devastated’ Chief Died by Suicide

Five members of a Wisconsin police force resigned on the same day – an exodus that represents nearly half of the department.

The Village of Big Bend announced the resignations this past week, after officers told brass they were fed-up with a ‘toxic’ work environment created by the village board.

The same board decided to disband the department back in September, a decision that was reversed last month following pressure from locals.

However, within that span, the town’s longtime police chief, Don Gaglione, suddenly died – and local coroners recently confirmed it was a suicide.

The revelation likely added to outrage seen from one of the now-resigned officers at a village meeting last month. He was escorted out after airing his distaste toward another ordinance that would get rid of the town’s Police and Fire Commission.

‘I am tired of the harassment of this village board and all the cr*p I’ve been dealing with throughout the years,’ Officer James Soneberg says in the clip of the village’s attempt to cut costs for the upcoming year.

The three-year vet proceeds to point at several board members while becoming increasingly animated, before being softly escorted away by fellow officer Joseph Honzelka.

Both men were among the names of those resigning this past Friday, revealed in a terse statement to the department’s Facebook page.

It read: ‘We regrettably announce[s] the resignation of the following officers: Sergeant [Jamie] Aide – 7 Years, Officer [Nathaniel] Schweitzer – 5 Years, Officer [Justin] Hennlich- 10 Years, Officer Honzelka – 1.5 Years, [and] Officer Soneberg – 3 years.

‘All of the officers came from or currently work at other agencies,’ the bulletin continued.

‘When including Chief Gaglione, these officers represent more than 125 years of total law enforcement experience.

‘We wish them the best and sincerely thank them for their service to the Village of Big Bend and its residents over the past several years.’

Another to quit was chairman of The Fire and Police Commission board members are trying to do away with, Mark Anderson.

He sat down with a local Fox affiliate Monday to explain how the Village president’s plan to dissolve the Fire and Police Commission – which is separate from the BBPD – was the last straw for not just him, but the five cops who also left.

‘I resigned because of the village board,’ he told Fox 8 days after handing in his own resignation letter.

He added that he ‘feels bad for the residents of Big Bend’ – a town of 1,483 directly outside Milwaukee – as they will now have to rely on nearby police forces as their local department dwindles.

After the flood of resignations, the department only has on full time officer and six part timers on staff, cops confirmed Wednesday.

‘There is a clear division here in the village,’ said Anderson, who’s old department helps oversee emergency responses in tight-knit area.

‘There very well could be a lack of service here,’ he continued, as the board’s scrapped plan of saving $250,000 annually by disbanding the department looks to still be coming to fruition.

‘I know that [the] Waukesha County Sheriff will fill in with coverage,’ he added, ‘but there will not be quick response times.’

He asserted: ‘There’s just no possible way for that to happen.’

Village board president Jeff Goodman, the man responsible for both plans, meanwhile begged to differ, telling WTMJ that community members should not be concerned about policing.

‘There won’t be a problem,’ Goodman said, citing the town’s proximity to Milwaukee, and the well-staffed Waukesha County Sheriff’s Department ability to take over village policing duties.

‘I don’t even know why they’re talking about it,’ he added.

The official went on to claim that his and other board members’ decision to reverse the department demolition shows a commitment to police in Big Bend, which he reiterated still has staff.

‘The board voted to keep the police, it’s not going to go away at all,’ Goodman said there are enough police officers to adequately run the department. ‘We have plenty of officers to run all the shifts,’ Goodman said Sunday, two days after the resignations.

‘We have an excellent person that has taken charge of the department. Citizens should not fear there is not going to be police protection. They will be safe.

Members of the BBP aired similar statements in a letter to the public posted to social media that same day, where officers told residents they would still do their best to handle any incidents that may arise.

Officials wrote: ‘Please be assured that when you call 911, a police officer will respond.

‘There are still dedicated officers here[,] and there will be an officer in charge to help lead the department forward in the new year.’

The bulletin went on: ‘We will continue to serve and protect the Village of Big Bend.

‘We will provide all of the services that we have provided in the past.’

READ 23 COMMENTS
  • PatriotRWB says:

    ‘We will provide all of the services that we have provided in the past.’ It’ll just take a LOT longer to get there. Good luck.

  • JB says:

    It’s too bad they resigned but can’t blame them. The people running the show are a bunch of idiots that think law enforcement is not necessary. Just look at Chicago you morons.

  • Ma says:

    Are other towns required to assist? I’d be charging them a premium and tell them that dispatches and cases from the police dumping town will be a last priority when handled.

  • frank says:

    Had some selectmen try and pull this type of shit in our town and we went ahead voted in a recall ordinance and sent them packing….As the country fills with scum so doesn’t our towns

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