Chippewa County Board Speaks Out

Chippewa County Board Speaks Out

Chippewa County leaders are spelling-out why they no longer trust Sheriff Travis Hakes.

County Administrator Randy Scholz and Board Chair Dean Gullickson issued a joint statement yesterday saying they have zero confidence in Hakes based on how he talked to a female 911 dispatcher, what he said about his outside jobs, the dim view that the county’s D.A. has of Hakes’ credibility, and his damaging the credibility of the sheriff’s department. The full county board took a no confidence vote in Hakes about two weeks ago. Sheriff Hakes continues to say the county’s displeasure, and the continuing investigations, are being prompted by his political opponents.

Below is the complete release from the February 20, 2024 Chippewa County Board meeting. The press release is in response to the following motion passed by the Chippewa County Board: (To authorize and direct the County Administrator and County Board Chairperson to summarize concerns identified from the investigations and to issue a statement on behalf of the Chippewa County Board):

On February 20, 2024, the Chippewa County Board of Supervisors voted 19-1 to declare they have no
confidence in Sheriff Travis Hakes’ continued leadership of the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department.
The County Board made this determination after spending many hours examining two investigations
directed by the Chippewa County Board and information provided by Sheriff Hakes. Some of the reasons
why the Board has no confidence in Sheriff Hakes’ continued leadership include:

  • Sheriff Hakes targeted a female job applicant and subordinate with inappropriate
    communications and special treatment including texting a racist ethnically charged meme and
    suggesting his coworkers texted him much worse content. For any leader of a law enforcement
    agency to make such comments calls into question their professional judgement and ability to
    enforce the law and treat all persons fairly and lawfully. Moreover, for any leader of a law
    enforcement agency to suggest that his subordinates engage in such conduct with his implied
    support and tolerance leaves no doubt as to his inability to effectively manage any law
    enforcement employee and not expose the County to great risk.
  • On December 18, 2023, the District Attorney of Chippewa County concluded that Sheriff Hakes
    must be identified on their Brady/Giglio disclosures. Brady/Giglio information is compiled by
    the District Attorney’s Office containing the names and details of law enforcement officers who
    have had incidents of untruthfulness, criminal convictions, candor issues, or some other type of
    issue placing their credibility into question. The District Attorney has to disclose this information
    to defense counsel. In Hakes’ situation, the District Attorney concluded that any impeachment
    of Sheriff Hakes’ credibility will negatively affect the prosecution of cases involving Sheriff
    Hakes, and the only way to ensure that prosecutions are not negatively affected is for Sheriff
    Hakes to avoid actively being involved in any investigations, or handling physical evidence. The
    real-world consequences of Hakes’ failings came to fruition already in the case involving
    Mitchell Ludtke.
  • Sheriff Hakes misled the public and County Board regarding his historical work record in law
    enforcement. The investigation shows he has a long history of not being credible and other
    local government administration and elected officials have also lost confidence in Hakes’ ability
    to be a part of or to lead their law enforcement agencies.
    Examples of Hakes’ history include:
    o Hakes stated he resigned in good standing as a Patrol Officer in the City of Chetek.
    However, the records from Chetek and the District Attorney’s office show that Hakes
    resigned to avoid an investigation involving his comments made to a victim suggesting
    that he could modify or eliminate his body cam recordings. He then entered into a
    separation agreement with the City of Chetek waiving any rights to be rehired by Chetek.

While serving as the part-time Police Chief for the Village of Elk Mound, records show Hakes had to be placed on a performance plan due to his failure to be present, to follow directions given by the Board, and to perform minimum requirements of this job.

According to a letter written by Hakes to the Village Board, he was given 48 hours to resign. The letter states that it was approved by the majority of the Elk Mound Board because they lost confidence in his ability to manage the Police Department.

  • Sheriff Hakes made unverified public statements of discrimination about Sheriff’s Department
    employment decisions. This caused significant damage to the credibility of the County in our
    efforts to recruit and retain employees, especially for the Sheriff’s Department. He refused to
    write a retraction to his statements to the public and County Board, even after the Human
    Resources Director completed a full investigation that established no discrimination, retaliation
    or quid pro quo favoritism occurred, and after notifying him that he was dishonest to the
    Director during the investigation.
    For the above reasons and many other reasons addressed in the investigations, Sheriff Hakes has
    demonstrated his negative impact on the fundamental operations of the Sheriff’s Department, the
    District Attorney’s Office, and the Chippewa County Department of Administration. This impact has also
    created concerns for the safety of the general public.
    Therefore, the Chippewa County Board at their meeting on Tuesday, February 20, 2024, passed the
    following motions, on a 19-1 vote:
  1. Motion for the Chippewa County Board of Supervisors to declare as follows:
  • The Chippewa County Board of Supervisor directed investigations involving Chippewa
    County Sheriff Travis Hakes are concluded and for the Chippewa County Administrator
    to forward the investigations to the Chippewa County District Attorney; and
  • The Chippewa County Board has no confidence in Chippewa County Sheriff Travis Hakes’
    continued leadership of the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Department; and
  • To authorize and direct the County Administrator and County Board Chairperson to
    summarize concerns identified from the investigations and to issue a statement on
    behalf of the Chippewa County Board of Supervisors.
  1. Motion for the Chippewa County Board of Supervisors and the Board’s committees to, going
    forward, receive information and reports at their respective meetings, regarding Sheriff’s
    Department administrative and law enforcement matters, from the Chief Deputy of the Sheriff’s
    Department or the Chief Deputy’s designee and not from Sheriff Travis Hakes, unless
    information from Sheriff Hakes is specifically requested by the Chippewa County Board of

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *