Brent Plisch. (Contributed)

UW-Madison cop turns down offer to become Stevens Point police chief

Metro Wire Staff

The Stevens Point Police and Fire Commission says its choice for the next police chief has turned down the job offer.

Brent Plisch, assistant chief of police with the UW-Madison Police Department, was offered the position by the PFC, but he declined the officer, according to PFC President Gary Wescott.

Interim Assistant Chief Robert Kussow. (Contributed)

Plisch was one of two finalists for the role, the other being Interim Assistant Chief Robert Kussow.

In a letter to the PFC, Plisch praised the process commissioners used to identify a new chief and said it “showed the dedication of the Police and Fire Commission as civic leaders.”

Wescott said the PFC will “pause for a few months to evaluate the civic environment before initiating a new search for a police chief; a reset so our community can re-establish itself as a place where the best and brightest progressive law enforcement minds seek out and view as a true opportunity.”

Tom Zenner has been serving as interim police chief since February 2020, when former chief Martin Skibba was placed on administrative leave after being caught drinking alcohol while on duty. Skibba resigned last June.  Zenner will continue in the role, Wescott said.

Plisch said there were complex reasons for his decision not to accept this position. His letter follows below.

Police and Fire Commission Members,

I have received and thank you for the conditional offer for the position of Police Chief in the Stevens
Point Police Department. After careful consideration, I am formally withdrawing myself from this
process. I’m humbled and honored that your commission and city had the confidence in me to be a
leader for your police department.

With challenges surrounding restrictions on interpersonal interactions, calls for social justice reforms,
reforms to policing, and trying to navigate creation of a new post-pandemic normal, the challenges
faced by the PFC have been monumental throughout this process. The PFC should be commended on
the process run under these circumstances and justified calls for reform. The questions, interactions,
and conversations addressed current and future challenges, clearly expressed a movement toward
progressive reforms, and explored the candidate’s experiences with creating a positive, engaged, and
inclusive culture within the community and the department. The process was clearly designed to find a
qualified leader for the department and showed the dedication of the PFC as civic leaders.

My interactions with other department heads showed me the city is at a place where the various units
are not only capable but qualified and ready to work with one another. The government leader’s
questions were aimed at evaluating the ability of the police department to engage in a multitude of
functions aside from a traditional law enforcement duties. It was clear to me your city work units are
prepared and willing to work together with a progressive police department to effect positive change
throughout the city.

While there are complex reasons for my decision not to accept this position, I wish the Stevens Point
Police Department and the City of Stevens Point the best. The residents of the city and the employees
of the department deserve a strong leader who will serve them well, express their talents and strengths,
as well as help develop flaws and weaknesses. I wish you, the PFC, the best of luck in finding a
candidate that fits the needs of the department and takes pride in being a community leader.

Thank you,
Brent Plisch