The request for police records was made in December 2016 but not filled until after Isthmusand the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed a lawsuit on Feb. 1, 2018. The city then turned over the records, which resulted in the March 8 article “Shielded.” The piece examined how the police department handled an internal investigation of Officer Stephen Heimsness.
Tom Kamenick, deputy counsel and open government specialist for the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, or WILL, calls the settlement a victory for public access to government records.
“It’s not often we get an admission of wrongdoing with a settlement like this. Often times, the defendants insist that there be no fault,” Kamenick says. “We appreciate that the department was willing to step up and admit its mistakes.”
The final terms of the settlement were reached this week. In addition to supplying the records, the city refunded the cost of the records and paid $1,731.45 in legal fees and court costs.