Police chief accused of intimidation gives his account of allegations against him

Chief: "We all make mistakes"
Posted at 11:57 PM, Dec 22, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-23 00:57:51-05
HORTONVILLE, WI -- Tense testimony was heard Thursday night from Hortonville's police chief in night two of public hearings surrounding his future.
Chief Michael Sullivan is facing accusations from officers and village leaders of intimidation and discriminatory conduct.
He's been on paid administrative leave since October. 
Chief Sullivan took the stand for more than two hours to give his account under oath of the accusations against him. In the majority of his responses he flatly denied doing, or saying what witnesses the night before claimed he did.
Village leaders brought 14 pages of complaints against Sullivan, who has been police chief of Hortonville for 14 years. Witnesses, including Wisconsin Professional Police Association attorneys, and current Hortonville officers claim Sullivan's words, and written policies, discouraged officers' union-protected rights to grieve and collectively bargain.
Multiple witnesses say Sullivan also used offensive nicknames for village leaders.
Tonight, Sullivan said he didn't use most of the language witnesses claim, adding he heard other officers use it instead. He also denies all accusations of intimidation, or retaliation.
At one point during his testimony, he was asked by his attorney, Greg Gill, whether at any point Sullivan felt the attorney representing the village, James Macy, had implied the case was in some way already decided.
Sullivan recalled a moment in which the two were together in a meeting out of courtesy, going over the list of complaints that were going to be brought against him.
"He slid the piece of paper forward, tapped his finger on it, and said, 'Chief, even if you are innocent of everything here, there is no way you can come back from this," said Sullivan, in response to Gill's question.
Attorney Gill replied: "did you conclude at that time that you were the subject of a witch hunt, and already been judged?" to which Sullivan replied, "yes."
Sullivan also admitted mistakes were made in some of the written and spoken language he's used, but he feels he can still lead the department if given that chance.
"What it means, and what it looks like is we need to open up doors of communication--more transparency," said Sullivan after the hearing. "That's always been my goal, is the transparency part of it. And, unfortunately, we've got to start pulling away at the lines, and the divide, and get everybody to start functioning as one."
It will still likely be weeks before the police commission hearing the case comes to a conclusion.