Dane County police chiefs ‘condemn racism’ in letter aimed at DeForest chief’s video

August 8, 2018

The Dane County Chiefs of Police Association is coming out against racism in a letter aimed at diffusing any mistrust or anger against police, after a racist video allegedly made by DeForest Police Chief Dan Furseth came out on YouTube.

Town of Madison Police Chief Scott Gregory sent out the letter Tuesday to media, after it was approved by the group’s executive board.

“We wanted to address concerns raised by members of different communities in the local area, regarding the YouTube video with Chief Furseth,” Gregory said.

“We also wanted to keep the message general, as to not affect any due process rights Chief Furseth has with this yet-to-be-resolved issue.”

Furseth is not mentioned by name or position in the letter.

He has been on paid leave since the video surfaced earlier this spring. It was posted to YouTube in December of 2015 by a former police intern who told WISC-TV he wanted to get Furseth fired.

The short video shows a group of black men in a parking lot, going to a restaurant, with Furseth narrating in a stereotypical urban black voice.

Gregory said such an act can compromise the buildup of trust between police and the community, especially if the act is by a leader of a police force.

“When that one officer is a law enforcement leader, the resulting impact is even more devastating, both to our communities and to our profession,” Gregory said.

“Acts of racism cannot be tolerated, and law enforcement officers, from the chief to the newly-hired officer, must live up to the ideals incorporated in the Law Enforcement Oath of Honor and Code of Ethics.”

He went on to say the association “Condemns racism in any form, and will speak out against acts by our own that negatively impact our relationships with the community and undermine the efforts and progress we have made to improve trust between law enforcement and communities of color.”

The DeForest Village Board is meeting in closed session Tuesday night to decide if it will file a complaint against Furseth with the police commission, which could decide to fire him as punishment.

Furseth turned down an offer from the village to resign in July, and the $120,000 package in pay and accrued off time that went with the offer.

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