(Cut-n-pasted from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel becasue registriation is required)
GPS used to spy on Muskego detectives : Inquiry shows on-duty stops to tanning salon, mall
Muskego - Suspicious that his detectives were not hard at work solving the latest crimes in Muskego, Police Chief John Johnson spied on his own investigators using high-tech surveillance equipment usually used to keep tabs on drug dealers and gangbangers.
Secretly placing a global positioning system tracker in a squad car shared by the department's two detectives, police supervisors learned that the pair were driving to a tanning salon, shopping at the Geoffrey Beene Outlet Store in Kenosha County and running personal errands while on duty, according to reports released Tuesday.
When his suspicions were first aroused last spring, Johnson rented a vehicle to have the investigators tailed for about two weeks until he thought the detectives would discover they were being followed.
That's when he called Milwaukee Police Chief Nannette Hegerty, who agreed to let Johnson's department use her department's GPS tracker for two weeks in May.
Milwaukee uses the device mostly for drug or other vice investigations, said Capt. Mary Hoerig of the Professional Performance Division. She refused to say Tuesday whether Milwaukee police has used a GPS tracker on its own officers, saying that she didn't want to reveal investigative techniques.
"I can tell you that I wouldn't hesitate in using GPS," Hoerig said.
A first for Muskego, the tracking device was placed on a squad car shared by the detectives. The device can place officers on specific streets and specify the length of time. GPS devices work by triangulating a location with at least three satellites in space. The more satellites that have a lock on the location, the more accurate the coordinates read.
The Journal Sentinel requested the department's investigative report after Detective Thomas Schilling quit, Detective James Kaebisch was demoted and the supervisor of the detective bureau, Lt. Steven Kukowski, was reassigned to head a patrol shift.
According to the report, a red flag went up when Chief Johnson was reviewing an expense report submitted by Kaebisch last spring. Plainclothes officers are reimbursed for their clothing up to $225 per year.
A receipt shows that Kaebisch used his credit card to purchase clothing for $85.41 during his shift on April 19 at the Geoffrey Beene Outlet Store in Pleasant Prairie in Kenosha County, the report says.
Kaebisch returned to the store on May 10 to return a shirt he purchased in April, and he then purchased two others, the report says.
On May 14, Capt. Paul Geiszler interviewed the clerk who helped Kaebisch with his purchases. She remembered him because he showed his police badge both times for identification, but she told him that wasn't good enough and that she needed to see identification with a photo.
Supervisors at Muskego Police Department began following Kaebisch on duty and continued tailing him for two weeks until it became too difficult to avoid discovery, officials said.
To better document suspected violations, the department turned to the GPS device, officials said.
During the two weeks the GPS tracker was used, numerous violations were discovered, including logging overtime hours to conduct personal business, the report says.
The tracker and other investigations show that from Jan. 30 to May 27, Schilling was repeatedly driving to his home under construction in Wind Lake, picking up his personal mail at his parents' home in Rochester, tanning at Goldie's Salon in Muskego, picking up his children from school or his ex-wife's home in Muskego and dropping them off at their destination, and running errands related to his new home, the report says.
Schilling was accused of six department violations.
On May 27, for example, Schilling spent three hours and seven minutes of his shift conducting personal business, the report says.
According to the report: He touched base in Wind Lake, then went to his residence in Franklin to change his shoes, which didn't match his pants, before returning to the Muskego Police Department. He went tanning, then to West Allis for a duty-related investigation, back to his residence in Franklin and finally to Greendale Middle School to pick up his girlfriend's daughter and drop her off in Greendale before returning to the Police Department.
Schilling, who admitted to tanning on duty about six times, told his supervisors that the sessions helped him avoid sunburns in the summer.
In addition to his two-hour shopping trips, the tracker and other investigations show that Kaebisch spent two hours and 57 minutes at his residence for an unknown reason on April 26. Kaebisch told supervisors later that he was trying to resolve a personal matter, but he never changed his time card.
On May 24, Kaebisch spent one hour and 13 minutes in South Milwaukee to meet a friend to discuss marital problems.
Kaebisch's five violations of department rules extend from April 19 to May 26.
Kaebisch, 45, was suspended for 15 days without pay and demoted from detective to patrol officer.
If he has no other violations for the next year, he won't have to serve another 15 days of unpaid suspension. He has been returned to probationary status.
Kaebisch, who has worked for the department since June 1983 and been a detective since June 1996, was not allowed to comment publicly about the investigation, according to Chief Johnson.
Schilling, 44, who resigned after the investigation, said Tuesday that he did not want to work for the department anymore. Schilling was hired in 1985 and promoted to detective in 1991.
"There was no progressive discipline," he said. He wasn't warned for his actions, and he wasn't doing anything different from supervisors at the department, he said.
"I did a few things that I probably shouldn't have done, but they never made an issue of it in the past," Schilling said. "I feel that what I was doing has been OK by the department for the last 30 years."
Schilling, who ran unsuccessfully against Scott L. Gunderson of Waterford for the 83rd Assembly District in 1994, said the detective bureau was targeted because Chief Johnson didn't want it anymore.
In the fall of 2003, detectives received a memo asking them to log their daily activities, Geiszler said. Johnson was on vacation Tuesday.
"The reason was to gauge the workload of the bureau and see if the manpower allocation was adequate for the detective bureau," Geiszler said.
Two positions in the detective bureau have been filled, he said.