We, the members of the Sheboygan Police Department, recognize that the trust of our community is essential to our success in accomplishing our public safety mission. We also understand that members of our community may have legitimate concerns about how that mission is accomplished, and what steps we have taken to ensure all of our actions are procedurally just and consistent with the best interests of the community. This page outlines many of the internal practices, procedures, training, and expectations that we have adopted to foster positive interactions and trust with our community.
Our organizational values of Leadership, Integrity, Professionalism, Competence, Accountability, and Teamwork support our efforts to build trust and legitimacy with our community. Each value is explained below, along with the initiatives and information consistent with that value. Click on each value for more details.
The Sheboygan Police Department strives to be at the forefront of delivering public safety goals to our community in a way that is perceived as procedurally just and with legitimate authority. As a result, our agency has adopted policies and procedures and conducted extensive training to ensure that our interactions with the public are not inappropriately impacted by bias and that we are ensuring the highest quality service to our community. As far back as 2012, our agency has conducted training on de-escalation, implicit bias, and crisis intervention, and have maintained expectations that our employees will use these techniques to ensure the safest possible outcome for everyone.
We recognize that there is still much work to do, and that we are responsible for leading our department and community into greater levels of trust and partnership as we work for justice and public safety. This includes collaborating with advocacy groups and other agencies, identifying and resolving problems, and developing practices that institutionalize fair and dignified treatment of all.
Body-worn Cameras: In 2018, the department equipped each uniformed patrol officer and school resource officer with a body-worn camera. The camera is an important oversight tool to increase transparency and accountability. While there are limitations to the effectiveness of body-worn cameras, such as the limited field of view, activation errors or by simply being knocked off during an encounter, they provide an accurate account of police-community interactions and critical incidents. They are a significant aid for successful prosecution of criminal cases, as a supervisory tool to identify training and coaching needs, and as a means of ensuring citizen oversight of police practices. All available body-worn camera video is reviewed by a supervisor whenever there is a reportable use of force, and quarterly audits are conducted to ensure compliance with activation policies. For more information, see SPD Policy 425, Portable Audio/Video Recorders.
LE Code of Ethics: The Sheboygan Police Department Policy Manual includes the Law Enforcement Code of Ethics, a statement of expectations which helps guide the decisions of our employees in sometimes challenging situations. The text of the code is included below:
As a law enforcement officer, my fundamental duty is to serve the community; to safeguard lives and property; to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation and the peaceful against abuse or disorder; and to respect the constitutional rights of all to liberty, equality and justice.
I will keep my private life unsullied as an example to all and will behave in a manner that does not bring discredit to me or to my agency. I will maintain courageous calm in the face of danger, scorn or ridicule; develop self-restraint; and be constantly mindful of the welfare of others. Honest in thought and deed both in my personal and official life, I will be exemplary in obeying the law and the regulations of my department. Whatever I see or hear of a confidential nature or that is confided to me in my official capacity will be kept ever secret unless revelation is necessary in the performance of my duty.
I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, political beliefs, aspirations, animosities or friendships to influence my decisions. With no compromise for crime and with relentless prosecution of criminals, I will enforce the law courteously and appropriately without fear or favor, malice or ill will, never employing unnecessary force or abuse and never accepting gratuities.
I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust to be held so long as I am true to the ethics of police service. I will never engage in acts of corruption or bribery, nor will I condone such acts by other police officers. I will cooperate with all legally authorized agencies and their representatives in the pursuit of justice.
I know that I alone am responsible for my own standard of professional performance and will take every reasonable opportunity to enhance and improve my level of knowledge and competence.
I will constantly strive to achieve these objectives and ideals, dedicating myself before God to my chosen profession . . . law enforcement.
Procedural Justice: Procedural Justice is a concept that has been increasingly recognized as the cornerstone of police-community relations. It refers to the process that officers use to make decisions, such as how community members were treated, rather than the outcome of those decisions, such as whether a ticket or warning was given. Procedural justice is made up of four pillars:
Dignity and Respect – Regardless of the reason for the interaction, each community member deserves to be treated with basic human dignity and respect.
Voice – All sides of the issue deserve an opportunity to be heard prior to reaching an enforcement decision.
Neutrality – Decisions are unbiased and made in an open, transparent way.
Trustworthiness – The person making the decision has trustworthy motives that consider the best interests of all involved.
All Sheboygan Police Department members have received training in the tenets of procedural justice and how their daily actions can contribute to perceptions of fairness and increase trust between the community and police. Each officer demonstrates our value of Professionalism by approaching every interaction with the community in a procedurally just way.
Citizen Complaint Process: Responsiveness to complaints from the public about officer conduct is an important part of ensuring professional delivery of services consistent with department values and policy. Misconduct, excessive force and discourteous or disrespectful treatment of members of our community are not tolerated. The Sheboygan Police Department receives complaints from citizens through a formal process, with complaint forms available on our website along with access to our complete policy manual. Members of the public may also speak to an on-duty supervisor at any time with questions about the conduct or decisions an officer made. The supervisor may provide further direction to the officer involved, or may recommend that the issue be investigated through the formal complaint process.
Formal complaints are assigned to a supervisor of higher rank than involved employees to conduct a thorough investigation, including reviewing available body camera video and other evidence of the incident, as well as interviewing all involved. Members of the community filing a complaint are notified of the outcome of the investigation, with a goal of response within 30 days of receipt of the formal complaint.
Formal complaints will have one of four possible dispositions: Sustained, Exonerated, Unfounded, or Not Sustained. Each of these outcomes are defined below:
Unfounded – When the investigation discloses that the alleged acts did not occur or did not involve department members. Complaints that are determined to be frivolous will fall within the classification of unfounded.
Exonerated – When the investigation discloses that the alleged act occurred but that the act was justified, lawful and/or proper.
Not Sustained – When the investigation discloses that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the complaint or fully exonerate the member.
Sustained – When the investigation discloses sufficient evidence to establish that the act occurred and that it constituted misconduct.
In cases where the complaint against the officer is sustained, officers may be disciplined or receive training or coaching depending on the outcome of the investigation and seriousness of the conduct. Discipline can include reprimands, suspensions or termination as well as other disciplinary actions, such as reassignment or demotion. For more information about our citizen complaint process, please see Policy 1010, Personnel Complaints, or visit our online complaint reporting page.
The Sheboygan Police Department also conducts investigations into employee conduct when a supervisor or another officer reports or discovers violations of policy or department values. These internally generated complaints follow the same investigative process as those reported by citizens, and complaints which are sustained can also result in discipline, training or coaching.
Training: The Sheboygan Police Department believes in preparing its officers to respond to volatile situations with both sound safety practices and compassion for those involved. To accomplish this, all officers have received training on how to reduce the impact of implicit bias on law enforcement decisions, as well as instruction in behaviors that may be driven by mental illness and strategies for de-escalation or crisis intervention. Officers receive at least 32 hours of in-service training each year which includes scenario-based training to reinforce the practices of compassionate response and de-escalation in real-world situations. Below is a description of the main training components on these topics:
CIT: In 2015, the Sheboygan Police Department began training all officers in CIT. Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) training is designed to bring police officers together with mental health care providers and other community-based resources to help officers learn signs and symptoms of various mental health diagnoses, as well as the tools to best respond to someone in mental health crisis and resources available in the community. CIT has been shown to reduce arrests of those with mental illness and improve the chances that they will receive mental health care, as well as improve the safety of officers and efficiency when confronting an individual in mental health crisis.
Locally, CIT-based interventions have helped limit mental health crisis calls and improved relationships between neighborhood officers, the members of the community who struggle with mental health, and other service providers. The Sheboygan Police Department is committed to expanding the effectiveness of our CIT response to mental illness in the community to improve safety and health outcomes for all involved. For more information, see the National Alliance on Mental Illness.
ICAT: In response to officer-involved deaths of subjects who were not armed with firearms, the Police Executive Research Forum developed the ICAT model (Integrating Communication and Tactics) to help initial responding officers resolve these situations while reducing the need for force. The training reinforces the tenet of the sanctity of human life, integrating techniques to communicate with someone in crisis with officer safety tactics to improve chances of successfully de-escalating the situation and thereby preventing the need for use of force. In addition to training on recognition of crisis behaviors and resolution techniques, the training involves extensive scenario-based training to give officers a real-world opportunity to apply the skills learned.
The Sheboygan Police Department began training all officers in the ICAT model in 2016 and continues to provide this training to all new sworn officers, integrating the focus on de-escalation with the State of Wisconsin Defensive and Arrest Tactics (DAAT) model. A more detailed description of the training, along with other resources, is available from the Police Executive Research Forum.
FIP: The Fair and Impartial Policing© curriculum was developed specifically for law enforcement and based on extensive research of the impact of implicit bias on decision-making. The training provides officers an understanding that even when they don’t outwardly hold prejudice toward any individual or group, bias can still impact perceptions and actions in a negative way, leading to unsafe, ineffective and unjust policing. The training also provides officers with tools to help recognize when biases may be activated and strategies to thwart their impact on actions and behavior. Officers also receive training on the department’s policy prohibiting racial profiling, developing an understanding of when it is and is not appropriate to rely on protected characteristics when making decisions in a law enforcement capacity.
In 2012, the entire supervisory staff of the Sheboygan Police Department received training in Fair and Impartial Policing, with an emphasis on the impact of bias in strategic and command-level decisions. In 2014, the department certified two supervisors as instructors of the Recruit/Patrol and First-Line Supervisor curricula, who have since conducted the training for all department officers including a refresher in 2020. The department continues to value the understanding of human bias and believes this has had a significant impact on officer relations with all community members. This training has also been integrated into our annual Citizens’ Academy to educate the community regarding implicit bias as well. More information regarding the Fair and Impartial Policing© curriculum is available at https://fipolicing.com.
Community Policing: The Sheboygan Police Department believes that the only way to effectively provide for community safety is by collaborating with the members of our community. Rather than seeing the public as something to be “policed,” officers instead seek partnerships to solve crime and quality of life problems. Since 2012 and as part of our field training program, each officer is required to conduct a “Neighborhood Portfolio Exercise” prior to completing their probationary period. The exercise is typically a problem-solving project in their assigned neighborhood, requiring them to get to know the residents, characteristics and challenges of the area and work together with the community on a solution. The department has also provided extensive training to all officers over the years regarding effective policing strategies, problem-oriented policing and the benefits of community involvement in support of our neighborhood policing strategy. For more information regarding the department’s community policing philosophy, see our Community Policing page.
Compstat and Neighborhood Policing: The Sheboygan Police department relies on a system of internal accountability to put officers and supervisors in the best position to understand and respond to community concerns and crime trends in their areas. Compstat was a system developed by the New York Police Department in the early 1990s in response to rising crime rates and to improve efficiency and effectiveness of police resources to increase public safety and prevent victimization.
In Sheboygan, each shift lieutenant is responsible for one of three patrol districts. The north district includes the part of the city north of Superior Avenue. The central district encompasses the area of the city between Indiana Avenue and Superior Avenue, and the south district includes all city area south of Indiana Avenue. Each district has a lieutenant or sergeant assigned from each shift to ensure 24-hour oversight of the department’s response to crime trends, quality of life problems, and other public safety concerns.
We believe that vibrant neighborhoods with a strong shared identity and pride are key to a healthy community. As a result, the city has 75 neighborhoods which have an officer assigned from each shift. The officers are expected to spend time in their assigned neighborhoods responding to complaints, neighbor disputes, ongoing problem properties, and other crime or ordinance concerns. Additionally, they are expected to work in partnership with the residents and stakeholders in each neighborhood to improve public safety and quality of life for our community members. This includes supporting the organization of neighborhood associations and neighborhood meetings, conducting crime prevention assessments of properties and offering suggestions to minimize victimization, identifying opportunities for building neighborhood engagement and identity.
Use of Force: The Sheboygan Police Department has established policies and training to equip officers to make well-reasoned decisions about the application of force within the limitations of their authority and the circumstances of the incident requiring the use of force. At the foundation of these policies is the value of human life and dignity for all involved. Below are several examples which highlight the department’s policies in light of community expectations about officer discretion and authority.
Duty to Intercede and Report: All officers are required to act to prevent an unreasonable use of force when in a position to do so, and to report unreasonable force to a supervisor as soon as possible. For more information, see SPD Policy 300.2.1, Duty to Intercede and Report.
De-Escalation: Officers are expected, whenever possible, to use de-escalation techniques to avoid the need for force when confronted with a volatile situation or individual in crisis. The department trains all officers in de-escalation techniques, which involve communicating with the person in crisis, using time and distance when possible to decrease the intensity of the confrontation, requesting the assistance of medical resources and other officers, and attempting to obtain compliance. For more information, see SPD Policy 300.3.4, Alternative Tactics – De-Escalation.
Chokeholds: The Sheboygan Police Department does not train the use of any respiratory restraints as appropriate use of force techniques, and the use of a chokehold is prohibited except under circumstances where deadly force would be authorized and other alternatives were not reasonably available. For more information, see SPD Policy 300.3.5, Respiratory Restraints.
Shooting at Moving Vehicles: The Sheboygan Police Department recognizes the inherent risks and limited effectiveness in firing at or from moving vehicles. There are also circumstances where a vehicle is used as a weapon during mass casualty or terrorist incidents. Officers are expected to remove themselves from the path of a moving vehicle and avoid using deadly force at the vehicle or its occupants unless there is no other reasonable way to avoid the vehicle causing death or serious injury. For more information, see SPD Policy 300.4.1, Moving Vehicles.
Use of Force Reporting: Each reportable use of force is investigated by a supervisor to ensure compliance with policy and law based on the totality of the circumstances. This includes a thorough investigation of the incident that led to the use of force, with a supervisor responding directly to the scene in most cases to ensure that witnesses are identified and interviewed, including the person against whom force was used, and that any available evidence is preserved. Following the investigation by the involved officers’ direct supervisor, the division captain also conducts a review of the incident and makes a final determination whether the actions of the officer(s) are consistent with policy or whether further training, coaching or discipline are necessary.
The Sheboygan Police Department maintains records of all reportable use of force and provides statistics regularly to the FBI and Wisconsin Department of Justice as well as to the community as part of our annual report. The statistics maintained are broader than what is required for reporting to government oversight agencies, because we believe that disclosure of any governmental use of force is in the public interest, as is minimizing the need for force to accomplish public safety needs. As explained elsewhere, the Sheboygan Police Department expects that officers will use force to overcome resistance only when other options have been exhausted or are impractical in the given incident, and that the force used must be objectively reasonable. More information on the department’s training regarding de-escalation, implicit bias, and crisis intervention is provided under the value of Competence. For more information about use of force reporting requirements, see SPD Policy 300.5, Reporting the Use of Force.
The Sheboygan Police Department responds to approximately 21,000 law incidents each year, making approximately 4,000 arrests for criminal and ordinance violations, warrants and apprehension requests, and traffic violations. Less than 1% of those arrests result in actual force being used to apprehend or control the suspect. The vast majority of the uses of force reported are for an officer displaying a firearm or Taser due to standard safety practices, such as during the execution of a search warrant, or prior to gaining compliance from an armed or combative suspect.
The Sheboygan Police Department has established relationships with many community partners to not only improve our response to crime and quality of life problems, but also to ensure responsiveness to community concerns and equity in public safety service. A few examples of our partnerships include:
- Sheboygan Neighborhood Pride
- Sheboygan Countywide Crimestoppers
- Sheboygan County LGBTQ Alliance, Government and Social Service Committee
- DEIB Committee
- Black American Community Outreach Unity Walk, Juneteenth and Community Barbecues
- Sheboygan County Chamber, Leadership Sheboygan County
- Sheboygan County Drug and Alcohol Treatment Court
- Sheboygan County Sexual Abuse Response Team (SART) and Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART)
- Lakeshore Child Advocacy Center
Neighborhood Policing Strategy: As described under accountability, the department’s system of assigning officers and supervisors to specific neighborhoods and geographic areas fosters long-term partnerships between those officers and the stakeholders in their assigned areas. The department has been instrumental in the formation of the city’s 11 recognized neighborhood associations, and continues to work with residents, neighborhood leadership, and other city departments to further develop the collective ability of neighborhoods to sustain a high quality of life.
School Resource Officers: Through a partnership with the Sheboygan Area School District, the department has five school resource officers (SROs) who are assigned to the city’s two public high schools and three public middle schools. Rather than replace the school’s own disciplinary system, SROs work with school administration from a standpoint of prevention, education and support. They also are often called upon to investigate the victimization of students at their assigned school. Each SRO spends considerable time mentoring and counseling students, and have been involved in educational programs that address student safety and crime prevention as well as careers in public safety.
Youth Engagement: In addition to the work of our SROs in building relationships in the schools, the Sheboygan Police Department has engaged in numerous outreach programs targeting youth in our community. Collectively, these programs are intended to establish positive interactions with youth and to encourage and educate those who may be interested in a career in policing. We see these efforts as essential to future public safety for the community as well as continuing to attract diverse and high-quality candidates to the department. Below are a few examples of our youth engagement programs:
- Junior Police Academy
- Public Safety Cadets
- Bike Safety Rodeos
- Cops & Bobbers
- Safety Town
- Hop with a Cop
- Blue Santa
Hiring Process: The Sheboygan Police Department conducts an extensive screening process for candidates interested in working as either an officer or civilian staff. New officer candidates are screened through a comprehensive application process, testing which demonstrates their problem-solving abilities, a structured interview which identifies whether their values are a fit for the culture of the department, and a thorough background investigation to identify the character and ethical standards of the candidate. Following approval for hire by the City of Sheboygan Board of Police and Fire Commissioners, each candidate must also complete a physical and psychological evaluation.
Once hired and certified as a law enforcement officer by the State of Wisconsin, which includes completion of the 720-hour Wisconsin Basic Police Recruit Academy, all officers complete a 15-week Police Training Officer (PTO) program where they receive on-the job instruction from a training officer who is with them at all times. The PTO training model is based on principles of adult learning, fostering creative and collaborative problem-solving when confronting real-world situations. Thereafter, officers are assigned to solo patrol as a probationary officer while they complete their probationary period. For more information, see SPD Policy 1000, Recruitment and Selection.
Diversity in Hiring: The Sheboygan Police Department recognizes that we are best able to serve and represent our community when we share its diverse characteristics. Our recruitment efforts have continued to attract high-quality candidates from a variety of backgrounds and have helped to provide internal context to the changing role of policing in a democratic society. We are grateful for those who see the challenges of policing as an opportunity to improve the relationship between the community and the police and who have chosen to serve the City of Sheboygan as a police officer. We believe that as a progressive police agency, our philosophy and values will continue to attract diverse candidates who are interested in moving our department into even greater partnership with the community.
While policing remains a profession that is predominantly male and white, we are proud of the progress we have made towards a department that is more representative of its public. Of our department’s current authorized force of 83 officers, 13 of them are female, four are Black, six are of Asian descent, three are of native American descent and one is of Hispanic heritage.
For information regarding our hiring process and standards, please see our Employment page.