GREEN BAY - The union for Green Bay's police officers is defending the officer who is shown taking down a man in what has become viral cell phone video.
The Green Bay Professional Police Association says it supports the officer's actions, calling them justifiable, legal and lawful.
FOX 11 is now identifying the officer in the video after his union identified him as Officer Derek Wicklund.
The Green Bay Police Department is investigating whether Officer Wicklund acted appropriately.
FOX 11 first showed you the video Monday, hours after it was posted and shared thousands of times on Facebook.
“Like most video segments, it does not tell the entire story, and too often media outlets use such footage as propaganda to generate controversy, make headlines, and sell advertising space,” wrote Ryan Meader, the president of the Green Bay Professional Police Association.
The video was shot last weekend at bar close on Washington Street. Police say the situation started out as a minor violation.
“What we believe happened was a person was suspected of leaving one of the taverns with an open intoxicant,” said Captain Bill Galvin of the Green Bay Police Department.
As that person was being arrested, people were pouring out of the bars, crowding the sidewalks. Some people were swearing at police, including 29-year-old Joshua Wenzel. You can see Officer Wicklund take down Wenzel. He was arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.
“Why isn’t anybody asking, “What did the man do to force Officer Wicklund to use force?” “What law did the man break?” “What was his demeanor?” “What was his condition?” “Did the man put himself in this unfortunate situation, by refusing to follow simple directions?” wrote Meader.
FOX 11 asked police and Wenzel all of those questions in some form before the union issued its statement. Galvin said many answers will come from the department's investigation.
“What was the reason for the initial complaint, what occurred during that contact, what occurred while that contact was taking place, did other people get involved or try to inject themselves into this incident, which further complicated it,” said Galvin. “So we have to look at it from all those different angles.”
Wenzel, the man taken down in the video, told me he didn't step towards Officer Wicklund or touch him.
Wenzel did admit he was drinking that night, but doesn't believe it played a role in the incident.
As far as the investigation, the police department has witness interviews scheduled through Monday.
- Green Bay Professional Police Association Statement:
The GBPPA is a member funded professional police association that works with police management to ensure that the citizen’s of Green Bay receive the best police service possible. Unfortunately, we live in an era where police officers are asked to do more with less but the brave men and women of the Green Bay Police Department are still willing to risk their lives for the safety and security of the citizens.
We also live in a society where people are presumed innocent until proven guilty, but this same legal principle that all citizens hold dear doesn’t seem to apply to police officers. Recently, local news media outlets aired a video segment of Officer Derek Wicklund affecting a justifiable, legal, and lawful arrest of an individual. Like most video segments, it does not tell the entire story, and too often media outlets use such footage as propaganda to generate controversy, make headlines, and sell advertising space. This is all done at the expense of police officers who then face potential retaliation and threats to themselves and their families for merely doing what is expected of them. If a citizen were threatened or harassed by another, we would call that a crime. That same concept doesn’t appear to apply to police officers.
We live in sad times when a snippet of video is used to pass judgment on a police officer’s actions before all of the facts are in. Why isn’t anybody asking, “What did the man do to force Officer Wicklund to use force?” “What law did the man break?” “What was his demeanor?” “What was his condition?” “Did the man put himself in this unfortunate situation, by refusing to follow simple directions?” All of these questions, and many others, must be answered BEFORE judgment is passed.
It is also important to recognize that although cameras can be useful tools to evaluate and determine the appropriateness of one’s actions, they lack many human elements that influence an officer’s decision making. Cameras do not capture what an officer was thinking at the moment. Cameras do not capture what an officer’s perception of a threat is at the moment. Cameras do not capture tactile feeling or what officers were physically feeling at the time, such as human aggression and tension. These are human conditions that are always difficult to measure and they are imperfect. Even though officers are trained to measure, evaluate, and react to such things, it can never be done precisely.
In the end, when force is used, we must never expect our police officers to be perfect. The amount of forced used is often made in chaotic, and split second moments. However, we must decide whether or not, under the totality of the circumstances an officer used reasonable force. These are commonly held standards that any use of force trainer is well aware of.
No officer ever wants to use any force on anybody. It’s the last thing that police officers want to do. Green Bay Police Officer’s embrace the idea of the “Universal Value,” which recognizes the value of all human life, regardless of what somebody has done. Simply put, Green Bay Police Officers make their decisions based upon the behaviors of others and not to punish, but to only complete lawful objectives.
The GBPPA stands alongside Officer Wicklund while this unfortunate incident is investigated by the Green Bay Police Department. The GBPPA is confident that Officer Wicklund’s actions will be justified and consistent with the State of Wisconsin Department of Justice use of force standards.
Ryan Meader, President, GBPPA