Commission considers officer's future with Superior Police DepartmentA Superior police officer could lose his job when he appears before the city’s Police and Fire Commission.
By: Shelley Nelson, Superior Telegram
A Superior police officer could lose his job when he appears before the city’s Police and Fire Commission.
Mayor Bruce Hagen and Police Chief Floyd Peters are jointly seeking to fire Officer Kirk Babic — a 20-year veteran of the department — as the result of an investigation into theft. The commission meets at 1 p.m. today in Room 204 of the Government Center.
Babic was placed on paid administrative leave in June while the Superior and Eau Claire police departments investigated allegations Babic had stolen money from a fund supported by police officers to maintain the law enforcement fitness center.
“By intentionally engaging in felonious criminal behavior by taking in excess of $5,000 from fellow officers who had trusted him with access to pooled funds, Officer Babic has betrayed the trust of the citizens of the city of Superior and has harmed the ability of the department to carry out its legitimate public safety duties,” according to the statement of charges.
According to the charges:
Superior and Douglas County law enforcement officers established the fitness center account by the mid-1990s for the purpose of purchasing and maintaining exercise equipment in a shared exercise room. Near the time the joint account was established, Babic was designated as a signatory and was authorized to handle the pooled funds for those purposes. Investigators found the thefts began in 2004.
In late May or early June, another signatory on the account, Superior Police Detective Mike Jaszczak discovered a series of suspicious and unexplained withdrawals on the account.
After a review of account records, Peters sought a formal investigation from the Eau Claire Police Department.
Sgt. Derek Thomas of the Eau Claire Police Department subpoenaed Babic’s personal bank statements and compared those to statements from the fitness center account. Thomas “noted a series of withdrawals from the fitness account authorized by Babic corresponding to similar deposits in Babic’s personal account at times when Babic’s personal account was at or near a zero balance.”
Babic admitted he withdrew $5,087.22 for personal use without permission of those contributing to the account. The money was repaid in mid-July.
In addition to theft, charges against Babic before the Police and Fire Commission this afternoon include resisting or obstructing an officer for lying to officers during the course of the investigation, and violations of the Standards of Conduct of the Superior Police Department, and city personnel rules and ordinances.
“Termination from employment is the only reasonable reaction to the discovery of ongoing, repeated and deliberate criminal misconduct by a police officer,” the charges concluded. “… We must trust police officers to protect the rights and property of our citizens. Officers who engage in misconduct such as this bring shame and disrepute upon themselves, the department and the city.”
Because of the pending administrative hearing and potential for criminal charges, Peters declined to comment on the case.
Criminal charges have not yet been filed, but Ashland County District Attorney Kelly McKnight has been asked to step in as a special prosecutor in the case, said Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank.