Posts tagged “Madison police

Dane County Sheriff Gives Police Professionalism a Black Eye

In recent weeks, a group of left-wing activists, who call themselves “The Solidarity Singers,” have again decided to thumb their noses at the law by refusing to obtain a permit to illustrate their irrelevance by protesting in Wisconsin’s beautiful capitol rotunda.  Liberal narcissists—believing that their myopic opinions are somehow more enlightened than the majority of Wisconsin’s voters—trampling on rights of others, such as those seeking to get married in the rotunda, is nothing new.

More repugnant than Americans picking and choosing which laws they choose to obey is a high ranking law enforcement official injecting himself into the debate and using the color of his authority to run interference against the Capitol Police by siding, for political purposes, with the Solidarity Singers.

Conducting himself in a manner inconsistent with the concept of law enforcement professionalism, as well as own county’s ethics ordinance, is Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney.  Since 1979, when a bill approved by Democrats in the state legislature and signed by Republican Governor Lee Dreyfus became law, a FREE permit is required to hold rallies inside Wisconsin’s glorious state capitol.

But Sheriff Mahoney apparently is of the opinion that unlawful conduct is acceptable if the lawbreakers are on the left side of the fence politically.

In late July, Mahoney appeared in the Capitol Rotunda and proclaimed, “I’m here to join alongside the Solidarity Singers. This is an example of freedom of speech. It’s an example of people coming together in solidarity for what they believe in.”

Absolutely no one is preventing the Solidarity Singers from obtaining the permit needed to occupy and disrupt a facility where official government business is conducted, including weddings and tours for school children.

“The permit is free and the group could continue to say and sing the same things they are today,” said spokeswoman Stephanie Marquis, who, according to WISN radio, noted that the Capitol Police have stated they would approve a permit if the Solidarity Singers applied for one.

Then, on August 1, Sheriff Mahoney appeared on Mitch Henck’s WIBA-AM in an attempt to explain how he “isn’t on the side of the Solidarity Singers” and that he would “never encourage anyone to break the law.”


A hunch says that Sheriff Mahoney began getting blow back from the Capitol Police and others who truly believe in the concept of professional law enforcement. Ironically, the Dane County Sheriff boasts on his department’s official Web site  that, “We continue to make strides toward becoming the most professional, efficient, and cost effective agency employing progressive solutions to the ever-changing challenges facing our communities.”

In reality, by championing the cause of the Solidarity Singers and encouraging them to violate state law, one could make an argument that Sheriff Mahoney is in violation of Chapter Nine of Dane County ordinances that govern the ethical practices of elected officials.

Chapter 9.10 (1), STATEMENT OF POLICY, states, “The proper operation of democratic government requires that county officials and employees be independent, impartial and responsible to the people…”

If Sheriff Mahoney chooses to violate the law and encourages others to do so, the Capitol Police should treat him like any other law breaker.   Wouldn’t it be more than just a little ironic if officers arrested Mahoney and then booked him into his own jail?

Moreover, Dane County residents upset with Sheriff Mahoney’s lack of professionalism might want to file a complaint with the Dane County Ethics Commission.

Unfortunately, law enforcement officials violating policy and/or ethical standards by using the color of their office for political purposes is nothing new in Dane County. On March 13, 2011, the Spingola Files reported that Madison Police Department Sergeant Dave McClurg openly identified himself as a Madison police official while siding with protestors who had unlawfully occupied the state capitol. Even though the below video of McClurg that openly violates Madison PD policy is still posted online, the sergeant—apparently championing a cause his police chief and city officials sympathize with—was NEVER disciplined.

Responding to criticism of his lack of professionalism, McClurg posted a March 20, 2011, reply at the Spingola Files pleading poverty by stating, in part, “I don’t know about any of you but I’m still struggling at times with three kids, one in college. I don’t feel like the one of the haves I work off duty to pay the bills.”

For struggling Americans, some of whom work from January through the middle of May each year simply to pay their tax obligations; McClurg’s comments illustrate the arrogance and the sense of entitlement of some public employees.  A database of City of Madison employees’ salaries shows that McClurg earned $94,274.22 in 2010 and $94,113.61 in 2012.  His wife is a public school teacher, which means the McClurgs’ employment earnings probably topped a $135,000—not to mention the generous health care and pension benefits often unavailable to the private sector employees who pay his family’s wages and benefits.

While the Mahoneys and McClurgs in the bizarro world of Madison (not to pick on Irish-Americans) have used the color of their office to influence political perceptions free of any official consequences, the taxpayers, many of whom earn only a third of what McClurg does, are taking notice.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest print edition only book, Best of the Spingola Files, Volumes I & II, is now available at

If your organization is on the lookout for an outstanding guest speaker, please consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.

For more information, visit and click the “seminars & presentations” icon.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

The Cop Against the Machine


Madison PD Officer Stephen Heimsness

The term “cozen”—meaning deception to win gain by shrewd trickery—is typically the antithesis of the word “noble,” although this rule of the English language might no longer apply in some quarters of our state’s capitol, where some seasoned law enforcement veterans believe Police Officer Stephen Heimsness is in the process of getting railroaded.

This leads one to wonder: is the Madison Police Department’s version of The Cozen Protocol being hatched inside the offices of its chief-of-police, Noble Wray, with his internal investigators playing the perfunctory roles of Bullpen Detectives John Spinelli and Bob Hillmeyer?

At 2:45 AM on November 9 of last year, Heimsness responded to a report of a possible entry in progress at a home on Madison’s isthmus. As he approached the residence, the officer observed the homeowner struggling with a man, later identified a Paul Heenan.  The intoxicated man then moved towards the officer and, according to Heimsness, Heenan reached for his gun.  The two men then began to grapple. Believing that the only reason an attacker would seek to disarm a police officer is to turn the gun against him, Heimsness fired three shots, killing Heenan.

Of course the residents of Madison are acting like the far-left residents that they are—a town that the late Wisconsin Gov. Lee Dreyfus once described as “Thirty-square miles surrounded by a sea of reality.” From the comfort of their coffee houses on Williamson and State Streets many Madisonians are now expert armchair cops, second-guessing Heimsness at every turn, even though they know that about one-in-ten police officers murdered each year are killed with their own firearms.

Other former Madison officers active in liberal causes have also stalked the flames burning under Heimsness’ feet.  Cheri Maples, a former police captain who now serves as a Buddhist teacher, told the Wisconsin State Journal that while she was “…not in a position to question Officer Heimsness’ statement that he feared for his life, I sincerely believe few officers would have made the same choice in the same set of circumstances.”

After reading Maples’ quote, many current and former law enforcement officers are probably wondering if the former captain was ever in the same position as Heimsness—in a struggle with an intoxicated person reaching for her firearm? My guess is that she was not, which is why Maples used the third person when referencing what officers would do in the same circumstance.

My suggestion to both Maples and Wisconsin State Journal reporter Sandy Cullen is this: why not interview police officers who actually walked-a-mile in Heimsness’ shoes? In some instances, I recognize that this might be difficult to do, since many of them are now deceased.

Meanwhile, I believe, Madison’s police chief, Noble Wray, appears to want it both ways.  While he has steadfastly defended Heimsness’ actions in regards to the shooting, Wray, it seems, is beginning to buckle under the pressure brought to bear by the city’s left-wing political establishment.

On February 3, Wray announced that the Madison Police Department had opened three “new” investigations of Heimsness’ conduct unrelated to the shooting or to the use of force.

“Although these investigations are not complete,” Wray told the Wisconsin State Journal, “I find the preliminary information to be troubling.”

Whatever happened to the Madison Police Department’s policy of not commenting about ongoing internal investigations?

Moreover, negatively commenting on an internal investigation prior to its conclusion seems to run counter to civil service law.  Wisconsin State Statute 62.13(5)(em)3, states, that a police chief must “…before filing the charge against the subordinate, made a reasonable effort to discover whether the subordinate did in fact violate a rule or order.” How can the chief-of-police claim that he made a “reasonable effort” to substantiate a charge against an officer after he publicly claimed that “preliminary” information, absent all the facts, is “troubling”?

In preparation for this post, SF reached out to those who understand the internal politics of the Madison Police Department, as well as those that know Officer Heimsness. To a person, they had good things to say about Heimsness, although they also believed he is soon to fall victim to Madison’s version of The Cozen Protocol.  

When asked if the Madison PD was collecting dirt so they can threaten Officer Heimsness with the loss of his job and force him to resign, one officer replied, “You are right on. Things are not good.”


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2013

Demagogues and Gun Control

Over three years ago, Mike Kuspa, one of the Midwest‘s foremost experts on major shooting tactical responses, and I formed The Spingola Group (SG).  This crew of current and retired law enforcement officers has one goal in mind: assisting organizations, such as schools, churches and businesses, to prepare their staffs for those critical minutes after an armed madman enters their facility with the intent to kill as many people as possible.

While there is no foolproof way to fully thwart the madness witnessed in Newtown, Connecticut, the old cliché that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure can minimize the carnage.

Unfortunately, whenever an opportunity presents itself, grandstanding politicians are all too willing to dance on the graves of murder victims in order to advance their own myopic agendas.  By now, though, Americans should know that policy made in a vacuum—the internment of Japanese-American citizens after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the speedy implementation of the USA Patriot Act quickly come to mind—usually results in our rights and freedoms fading like a dying ember.

Some of the pontificators in the mainstream media, many of whom have likely never shouldered a firearm or lived in a troubled neighborhood, have also jumped into the fray.  Liberal Wisconsin State Journal columnist and gun control advocate Chris Rickert, generally one of Madison’s more rational voices (I know, that’s probably an oxymoron), is a prime example. 

In a recent shot at “Republican” politicians, Rickert claims that the “silence” from the likes of Gov. Scott Walker, and the leaders of the legislature, Scott Fitzgerald and Robin Vos, on a shooting spree in another state is telling.

“When you’re a true believer, events [such as those in Newtown] aren’t evidence,” Rickert quotes former Democrat Party legislator Mordecai Lee. “Events aren’t facts because you have a belief that can’t be overturned by any events or facts.”

What would Rickert and Lee propose to resolve the problem? The columnist, of course, is short on any specifics, although a hunch says European-style gun control.

Dr. John R. Lott, the author of “More Guns, Less Crime: Understanding Crime and Gun Control Laws,” is a researcher who views events by looking at the numbers not the rhetoric from the usual suspects.

“Europe has a lot of multiple victim shootings” said Dr. Lott in recent interview with Front Page Magazine.  “If you look at a per capita rate, the rate of multiple-victim public shootings in Europe and the United States over the last 10 years have been fairly similar to each other. A couple of years ago you had a couple of big shootings in Finland. About two-and-a-half years ago you had a big shooting in the U.K., 12 people were killed. 

“You had Norway last year [where 77 died]. Two years ago, you had the shooting in Austria at a Sikh Temple. There have been several multiple-victim public shootings in France over the last couple of years. Over the last decade, you’ve had a couple of big school shootings in Germany. Germany in terms of modern incidents has two of the four worst public-school shootings, and they have very strict gun-control laws. The one common feature of all of those shootings in Europe is that they all take place in gun-free zones, in places where guns are supposed to be banned.”

In my new book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, a chapter entitled, “Do-Gooder Signs Provide Solace for Active Shooters” takes New York City’s nanny-state mayor, Michael Bloomberg, to task for his simplistic view on the Second Amendment and self-defense.

“These are the same signs [posted gun-free zones],” I noted, “that James Holmes—the shooter at the Aurora, Colorado theater—likely ignored. After all, reality dictates that do-gooder, no carry policies do little more than provide killers, like Holmes, with some solace in knowing that their law-abiding victims have voluntarily disarmed.”

Having served for parts of five decades as a law enforcement officer, I know, in most instances, that calling the police is often the best form of crime prevention.  Yet, when confronted by a suicidal gunman or an armed burglar, when a victim needs the police in a matter of seconds the police are likely minutes away.

Just ask Brittany Zimmermann, the University of Wisconsin-Madison student attacked and killed by an intruder in her Doty Street apartment on April 2, 2008. In a struggle for life, Ms. Zimmermann did call the police, but officers were never dispatched.

Almost five years later, sources say only one Madison Police Department detective works the case, rarely, on a part-time basis. While the brass at the Madison PD claims Zimmermann’s homicide is not officially a cold case, the investigative strategy, it appears, is centered on a future hit from a DNA data base.

Chris Rickert certainly knows that Brittany Zimmermann was killed only a few miles away from where he works.  If Madison journalists spent as much time exposing the botched investigation into Ms. Zimmermann’s death as they do carrying water for gun control, the Zimmermann family might finally have some peace this Christmas.  Brittany Zimmermann was not murdered with a firearm. She was stabbed to death. If she had access to a handgun—the same instrument Rickert et al would seek to ban or control—Ms. Zimmermann would likely be alive today and the bloody crime scene on Doty Street would have had a much different look.

As the holidays near and the Zimmermann family realizes that another year has come-and-gone with their daughter’s killer at-large to murder again, one can bet that Mr. Lee’s quote that “Events aren’t facts because you have a belief that can’t be overturned by any events or facts” are more applicable to those of Rickert’s ilk than proponents of self-defense—a long held tenant of natural law.  Just ask the family of Brittany Zimmermann.   

Benjmain Franklin once said, “Those who give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor security.” 

As such, the attributes the Spingola Group identifies to confront evil are “anticipation, preparation and perseverance”—not unarmed surrender. 


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His latest book, Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You, is available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files’ Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, please visit:

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012

Madison’s Curmudgeon Mayor Seeks to End an Era He Created

To view this article, checkout Best of the Spingola Files, Vol. II: Here’s Looking at You coming to in December 2012.


Steve Spingola is an author and retired Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective. His new book, Best of the Spingola Files, is now available at

If your group is in need of a fascinating guest speaker, consider the Spingola Files Psychology of Homicide presentation.  For more information, visit

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2012

This Holiday Season, Rats Needed

To read this article, purchase the Best of the Spingola Files, coming to’s Kindle store in January 2012.

Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders.  Spingola also travels to present The Psychology of Homicide, a riveting program concerning high-profile homicide investigations, to groups and organizations.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010

Gun Toting in Madison: Are All Constitutional Rights Considered Equal?

With the exception of Berkeley, California, the city of Madison, Wisconsin is probably the most liberal town in the United States, although activists there prefer the label “progressive.”  But an incident that occurred at a northeast side restaurant is testing the Madison Police Department’s respect for the state and federal Constitutions.   

On September 18, five men decided to pay a visit to a Culver’s restaurant, located near the popular East Towne Mall.  Seated at a picnic table outside, the men politely conversed over some custard that they had purchased.  The only thing that distinguished these particular customers from the others was the holstered firearms that they openly carried. 

Wondering if such conduct was lawful, a 62-year-old woman contacted the Madison police.  Soon, a swarm of officers responded to the call of gun-toting, custard eating men. 

When the officers arrived, they demanded identification.  Two of the five men politely declined to identify themselves.  They were handcuffed, searched, and issued tickets for obstructing the issuance of a citation.  In Wisconsin, however, individuals contacted by law enforcement are not required to identity themselves unless they’re operating a motor vehicle, where the law requires the production of a driver’s license.

A legal representative for the five men, members of a group that advocates the open carry of firearms, immediately threatened legal action.

And it looks as if the men may have a case.

It seems the actions of the Madison officers, and the subsequent response from their chief-of-police, runs contrary to a April 19, 2009, opinion issued by Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen.

“His [Attorney General Van Hollen’s] memorandum to prosecutors” writes Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reporter Patrick Marley, “says the mere act of having a gun does not warrant a charge of disorderly conduct, a position that pro-gun advocates have argued in several recent legal cases.” 

Van Hollen further explained that openly carrying firearms, even if technically legal, does not exempt those who do so from questioning.  Of course, the current state of the law allows a law enforcement officer to contact virtually anyone in a public place.  There is some ambiguity in the AG’s opinion as it relates to an official stop and the subsequent temporary detention of an individual if a reasonable suspicion does not exist that they are violating a local ordinance or state law, which goes to the heart of the Madison Police Department’s actions. 

After all, absent an officer’s belief that a reasonable suspicion exists that a crime is being committed, has been committed or is about to be committed, citizens are not obligated to comply when simply contacted by the police.

But instead of apologizing to the two men, who were handcuffed, searched and cited for doing nothing illegal, it appears that the Madison police have dug in their heels. After releasing the two citations for obstructing the issuance of a citation, Madison’s police chief, Noble Wray, ordered his officers to issue each of the five men disorderly conduct citations.

“The complaint clearly reveals she [the woman who called the police] recognized the potential for violence from these armed men and it was this fear that motivated her call to police,” Madison Police Department spokesman Joel DeSpain told the Wisconsin State Journal. 

On Friday, however, WTMJ talk-show host and former Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Wagner obtained the 62-year-old woman’s 911 call, where she clearly told the 911 operator that she was not disturbed but simply found the presence of openly carried firearms out of place.  On his show, Wagner went so far as to call Madison’s police chief “a liar.”

Listen to the 911 call by following this link:

It appears that, after the fact and facing the possibility of legal action from the open carry organization, the Madison Police Department sent detectives to re-interview the woman. Why these detectives were assigned follow-up to a complaint, that any objective person, having listened to the 911 tape would find baseless, I believe, points to some skillful posterior covering. 

But the police chief’s response goes further. 

In a September 22, 2010, news release, Noble Wray tells his officers that, “The individual [openly carrying a firearm] should be contacted, controlled, and frisked for weapons if appropriate. Officers should separate the suspect from any weapons in his/her possession during the encounter.”

But what if the party simply being ‘contacted’ for conduct the Wisconsin Attorney General believes is lawful does not wish to comply and is then ‘controlled’ and their lawfully held property seized for examination? Wray’s memo seems to place his officers in the field between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

You can bet that open carry advocates will continue to push the envelope and many of these issues will likely be decided in state and federal courts. 

In the meantime, taxpayers in the city of Madison—hang on to your wallets.


Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of Predators on the Parkway: a Former Homicide Detective Explores the Colonial Parkway Murders.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010

Bad Week to be British in Madison

To read this article, purchase The Best of the Spingola Files, coming to’s Kindle store in January 2012.

Steven Spingola is a former Milwaukee Police Department homicide detective and the author of The Killer in Our Midst: the Case of Milwaukee’s North Side Strangler.

© Steven Spingola, Wales, WI, 2010