A third-party investigation conducted into Village of Oregon Police Chief Brian Uhl’s September 2019 stop and search of a juvenile riding a bicycle has found Uhl’s actions justifiable.
A full report detailing the investigation, commissioned by the Village Board, was made available to the public as of Monday, Feb. 3, as part of a board meeting packet.
In a Tuesday, Jan. 28, email to the Observer, Uhl said the report fully exonerates him.
The report stated Uhl stopped the minor – named as J1 to protect the minor’s identity – and performed a search on the morning of Sept. 6, 2019, hours after the child’s mother refused to let another OPD officer speak with her son about alleged threats to bring a gun to school and ambush another student.
The investigation found overall that Uhl’s actions were in compliance with Wisconsin Statutes 968.24 and 968.35 in that the chief “had requisite reasonable suspicion necessary to engage in the stop and search in light of all the information known to him at the time.”
The board voted to refer the report to the Personnel, Public Safety and Protection committee for further discussion. Village president Jeanne Carpenter said the report could be used as an “educational tool” if any similar scenarios occur in the future.
The village worked with attorney Patrick Fiedler to carry out the investigation, which started in October 2019 as a result of a complaint made to village administrator Mike Gracz about Uhl’s conduct. Fiedler was assisted by Thomas K. Marquardt, a retired FBI special agent, the report stated.
The report details interviews and background from 13 individuals – the juvenile, and the juvenile’s mother, Uhl, sixth grade football coach Jeffrey Minter, Oregon Middle School associate principal Jason Zurawik, principal Shannon Anderson and Oregon High School principal Jim Pliner, Gracz and various members of the Oregon Police Department.
Fiedler and Marquart focused on what exact information Uhl had on the morning of Sept. 6, and whether his decision and conduct in performing the stop and search of the child were in compliance with state law and OPD policies and “reasonable under the circumstances.”
According to the report, the minor had been riding a bike to school but realized he had forgotten a snack, so he turned around and returned to his house to retrieve it.
A department briefing log contained information the juvenile made a comment the previous day about planning to attack another student and bring a gun to an Oregon High School football game on the same day of the stop, the report stated.
But the juvenile said in the report there was a discussion at school about a necklace, which is how the student’s name came up.
A friend of the minor – MJ2 in the report – had been having an “ongoing discussion” with another student – MJ3 – about the necklace and about a fight happening. J1 heard about the fight and said he would be present where it was to happen at the Oregon High School football game.
J1 said he never threatened to bring a gun but believed MJ3 reported to OPD a rumor about a firearm being a part of the fight.
According to the report, the mother said police officers came to her home at around 2 a.m. Sept. 6. One of the officers, Kyle Schewe, advised OPD was at her residence due to a complaint from an Oregon school about a possible gun incident.
Schewe, the report stated, asked the mother if the officers could search her home. She vehemently denied them entry, the report stated, not letting them speak to her child.
Her child was stopped later that morning when the boy was riding his bike to school.