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DeForest Village Board seeks ouster of police chief who made racist video

August 10, 2018

The DeForest Village Board has voted to file a formal complaint against the village’s police chief, the first step in what members said they hoped would end with the chief’s termination.

In a closed session Tuesday night, the board voted to file a complaint against Daniel Furseth, who has been on paid leave since May 23 after the recent discovery of a video posted in 2015 of Furseth making racist comments about a group of black men.

The 11-year-old video shows five well-dressed black men walking toward a Steak ‘n Shake parking lot. Furseth narrates the video in a stereotypical voice, making statements such as, “All right boys let’s go in. This is the fanciest-ass restaurant we ever been to and it is called the Steak ’n Shake.”

After the video surfaced, Furseth was put on paid leave.

The board’s vote came after the results of a investigation exposed management concern with the police department.

“The management concern relates to Chief Furseth’s failure to address employee misconduct related to harassing behavior occurring in the Department,” according to a statement. “Additional reports of misconduct have been made ... and are identified in the complaint as: inappropriate public communications/improper use of village technology resources, conduct detrimental to public confidence in the department, and improper disclosure of confidential information.”

The complaint cited three other incidents that contributed to the board’s decision. On several different occasions, it states, Furseth neglected to address harassment complaints that were brought to his attention.

Furseth also posted on the DeForest Police Department Facebook page a video that was recorded by other police officers of a man running naked through a local McDonald’s parking lot. The man in the video was suffering a mental health incident, according to the complaint.

Also, Furseth obtained video placed into evidence of a woman fleeing from her firearm-wielding husband who had shot her in the head. He then showed it to officers from other jurisdictions, as well as civilians, without first knowing if the video should be released to the public, the complaint states.

Village Board President Judd Blau said he hopes Furseth is terminated.

“I am disappointed in his actions or inactions in a variety of instances,” Blau said. “I feel as though we need to have a different person leading the police department.”

Furseth has worked for the police department for 29 years, with the last year as police chief. He declined the village’s offer to resign with a severance package worth six months’ pay and accumulated vacation time and sick days, for a total of about $120,000.

After the complaint is filed, the Village Police and Fire Commission can then decide whether to fire Furseth.

Commissioner Myra Josephson declined to comment on the complaint Wednesday.

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