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Burnett Co. Sheriff feels condemned after firings for alleged domestic abuse cover-up

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BURNETT COUNTY, WI (WTAQ) - A northwest Wisconsin sheriff says he’s being condemned as the bad guy for firing three employees who covered up for a deputy suspected of abusing his girlfriend.

We first learned last fall that 9 Burnett County sheriff’s employees were disciplined for preventing Deputy Chris Culvey from having his domestic relations exposed.

Two deputies are still appealing their firings. A dispatcher was also let go, and another was disciplined and re-instated.

Now, Sheriff Dean Roland tells the Minneapolis Star Tribune that everybody thinks it’s his fault just because he was trying to hold his employees accountable. He told the paper that people think they were, “the best officers ever … (and) most people don’t know the facts.”

The facts were spelled out in a 400 page ruling from a state hearing examiner that the Star Tribune obtained under Wisconsin’s Open Records Law. In the report, Jeffrey Kohler said, “A frightful chaos was visited upon the Burnett County sheriff’s department because some people thought they were smarter than everybody else.”

Kohler’s report said Culvey had such a volatile relationship with his girlfriend, that officers often took him to their homes to keep him from fighting with her.

The report said the woman called 911 twice to complain – and one officer dismissed it as an argument without filing a report. And the dispatchers called them disturbances instead of domestic incidents, in which police are required by law to make arrests in most cases.

An attorney for state’s police union said Roland overreacted.

Deputy Culvey has not been charged, even though the possibility was mentioned last fall. Online court records showed that he did have a restraining order placed on him last April – and he could only possess his sheriff’s service weapon. 

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