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Officer involved in viral video defended by Green Bay Professional Police Association

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Still photo taken from Green Bay Police arrest video. (Photo from: YouTube).
Green Bay Police arrest video
Still photo taken from Green Bay Police arrest video. (Photo from: YouTube).

GREEN BAY, WI (WTAQ) - A day after the Green Bay Police Department announces an investigation into a viral cell phone video which shows an officer potentially crossing the line when making an arrest, the local police union is standing behind the officer in question.

The Green Bay Professional Police Association issued a statement to WTAQ regarding the incident involving the officer they identified as Derek Wicklund.

Below is that statement by GBPPA President Ryan Meader:

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.

Meantime, the Green Bay Police Department has not received a formal complaint -- but police say numerous e-mails and Facebook postings have expressed concerns.  

In the video, officers arrest a man for allegedly leaving a tavern with an open intoxicant.  Other people -- some apparently yelling profanities -- surround the officers and ask why the arrest is being made.  An officer rushed at one of those people and grabbed him.  

A Racine County man, 29-year-old Joshua Wenzel of Caledonia, tells the Green Bay Press-Gazette he was the one grabbed. Police ticketed him for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest.  He told the paper he was "kind of drunk" at the time, but not overly intoxicated.  

Police Captain Bill Galvin said officers can go one level above a suspect's behavior to get the person under control. All the officers involved were still on the job at last word.

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