New Richmond police officer suspended two days without pay
New Richmond Police Officer Carlos de la Cruz was suspended two days without pay by the New Richmond Police Commission following a two-day hearing earlier this month.
The commission ruled de la Cruz, who has been with the Police Department as an officer since November 2006, was in violation of two Police Department policies -- use of a cell phone while driving and pursuing a vehicle -- during a January 17 incident.
According to “the findings of fact” portion of the commission’s ruling:
-- de la Cruz was westbound on North Shore Drive, approaching North Knowles Avenue at approximately 4:07 a.m. He saw a vehicle traveling northbound greater than the posted 25 miles per hour speed limit. A radar check showed 41 mph as the vehicle approached the intersection of State Highways 65 and 64.
-- de la Cruz then saw the vehicle, deemed a newer Jeep Grand Cherokee, silver in color with black wheels, turn eastbound onto State Highway 64, without coming to a stop at the stop sign.
-- de la Cruz attempted to catch up to the vehicle on Hwy. 64, as he traveled in speeds between 95 and 100 miles per hour. While in pursuit, he didn’t have his squad vehicle’s red lights, siren or any other emergency equipment activated.
-- At 4:07:47, he began radio traffic with other law enforcement officers. Three minutes later, he made direct contact with St. Croix County Dispatch for the first time, indicating he made a traffic stop.
-- While in pursuit of the vehicle, he answered his cell phone and had a conversation for approximately 16 to 20 seconds. When he realized the call wasn’t pertaining to the pursuit, the call ended.
New Richmond Police Chief Mark Samelstad conducted an investigation into the incident and imposed de la Cruz with a six-day unpaid suspension on February 25. The same day, de la Cruz made a request for a hearing.
The commission found the evidence presented during the two-day hearing showed de la Cruz was in violation of the two policies, but yet, ruled Samelstad’s initial suspension was “not reasonable” and therefore reduced it to two.