When civilian April Kigeya’s daughter got pulled over by a village police officer Aug. 27 in a way that didn’t seem right to her, she took to Facebook to complain.
And when a passerby checked on the driver during the stop in a way that police say is unsafe, it prompted a review of the situation.
As a result of the incident, which involved a stop for expired registration, a covered badge number and a sticker that allegedly contained a political message, police chief Jennifer Pagenkopf will now deliver a department report during every Village Board meeting. She also told trustees at their Monday, Sept. 14, meeting Lt. Chad Schaub will randomly assign supervisors three cases to view for “correct usage” to “have that check and balance in place.”
“With some dialogue, we can get back to some sort of area where (the public) can express their concerns without things becoming unsafe,” Pagenkopf said. “OPD will keep this community together.”
Pagenkopf told the board she had sat down with both Kigeya and the woman who checked on her daughter to discuss what happened. She said she could have cited the woman, calling her intervention illegal and unsafe. Instead, she advised the woman of a safer way to observe a traffic stop if for people who are concerned for the driver.
The department, Pagenkopf said, received many emails about the incident and added that she came to the board to ensure transparency and accountability on the department’s behalf before she spoke about it publicly.
The officer who conducted the stop “handled it well,” Pagenkopf said, calling the act of the citizen checking on the welfare of the driver “unique.” She said some of what was posted on Facebook was “misinformation.”
“It triggered this large amount of emails to be sent to me,” Pagenkopf told trustees. “The post was nothing terrible, but it did entail that the traffic stop was unlawful and the officer purposely concealed their badge so the driver couldn’t see their number.”
The post states Kigeya’s daughter, identified as Kenya, was “stopped because the ‘registration expired in 2017’ according to the officer.” When Kenya pulled that information out of her glove box, “it stated (it) doesn’t expire until October 2020.” When Kenya looked at the officer’s badge, “it had a Blue Lives Matter sticker covering the badge number.”
“Despite Kenya getting a ticket, which we will fight in court, she is alive and I am thankful for the woman who stopped to check on her.” the post reads.
Pagenkopf said Oregon officers have been wearing mourning bands to remember a lost Dane County deputy. She didn’t address the expired registration, but she said emails responding to the post have come from Oregon residents and the surrounding Dane County area, as well as “out of state agitators.”
“The post was taken as valid information,” Pagenkopf said. “The emails contained content requesting that the officer be immediately disciplined.”
She quoted some emails as saying “he sounds like the kind of cop that would shoot a black person and “your people are untrustworthy.”