Sheboygan police harassment investigation, 10 officers disciplined
SHEBOYGAN, Wis. - Ten Sheboygan police officers were disciplined after reports of sexual harassment. According to the investigation reports, the case involves inappropriate photos of female officers circulating through the department.
One attorney said while seemingly innocent, behavior in the workplace can quickly become harassment.
"It’s disappointing to hear about wrongful conduct in a community that was created to keep people safe," said Danielle Schroder, attorney.
Ten Sheboygan police officers were disciplined for sexual misconduct after a months-long internal investigation found four male officers had sexually harassed female colleagues.
Documents obtained by FOX6 News detail how one victim found out a partially nude photo of her was getting passed around without her consent.
The report says another victim sent nude photos to a former Sheboygan police officer, but the photos were also passed around.
"Any sort of conduct or comment or behavior that is of a sexual nature could rise to sexual harassment if it is taking place among employees in the workplace," said Schroder.
Schroder is not involved in this case but has represented sexual harassment victims. She said many don't report the harassment because they're afraid of retaliation, especially when the workplace is composed of employees who are predominately one gender.
"They may feel like they have a target on their back," said Schroder.
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Sheboygan Police Department
According to a national survey on sexual harassment of law enforcement, 71% of female officers reported experiencing harassment or assault on the job compared to 41% of male officers.
Residents said they're concerned.
"If the cops are doing that, how are we going to feel safe?" said Nuh Dogan.
For the officers who were disciplined, consequences varied from a 10-day unpaid leave, to suspension, to putting a personal phone in a locker during work hours and attending harassment training.
FOX6 News reached out to the Sheboygan police chief for comment but have not yet heard back.
Statement from Sheboygan Mayor Ryan Sorenson
"While I cannot comment on personnel matters, please know that I take these matters extremely seriously. I know that as a city, we are only successful if we support employees who uphold, and work in alignment with, the values of our city and community. I will always stand up and submit to the importance of making sure that every employee has a safe, comfortable environment in which to work. Our top priority moving forward is to rebuild the trust of our employees, our citizens, and our community.
Furthermore, we have already begun the process of evaluating and ensuring our internal policies and procedures reflect the values and expectations of the community. We are committed to doing everything we can to ensure harassment and discrimination have no place in the City of Sheboygan. I am committed to ensuring that leadership at every level of municipal government takes allegations of sexual misconduct and abuse of power seriously, and will do everything in my power to protect employees, residents, and patrons."