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A Seat at the Table of Power

This post was submitted by Penny Robinson

ESTHER encourages an African American to apply for appointment to the Grand Chute Police and Fire Commission

Background of racist social-media posts by police officer

Last summer ESTHER Organizer Bill Van Lopik was informed that Grand Chute Police Officer Laluzerne had posted racist comments on social media. Most of the posts were from high school, but a more recent one referred to Boogaloo, a white supremacist movement.

After connecting with a Black Lives Matter group, Bill and others from ESTHER joined a protest, at which Grand Chute Police Chief Greg Peterson agreed to meet with ESTHER President Gary Crevier. News surfaced that the department was conducting a thorough investigation of Laluzerne. Some wondered if an outside, unbiased individual or group should conduct such investigations. The officer was thoroughly questioned and “put on notice,” but was not disciplined or fired.1

Discussions with Police Chief Peterson

Concerned about a possible racist on the Grand Chute Police Force, a small group, including some members of the ESTHER Equity and Racial Justice Committee, met with Grand Chute Police Chief Peterson twice via Zoom. Receiving the agenda and questions ahead of time, the chief was prepared and thoroughly answered our questions. In fact, Peterson reviewed all their policies and procedures and had already changed one procedure. Now complaints from the community go directly to the Police and Fire Commission instead of to the Police Department.

Committee looks to Commission

However, the Equity and Racial Justice Committee believes it would be even more helpful if an African American, who thoroughly understands the relationship between police and most African Americans, were to have a seat on the Grand Chute Police and Fire Commission (PFC).

Mandated by the State

By Wisconsin Statute, the PFC’s primary role is to staff the police and fire departments. The Grand Chute PFC reviews and holds hearings concerning any contested disciplinary suspensions and all terminations of police and fire employees, including the chief. In addition, the Commission hires/approves (without community input) police and fire employees, including the chief.

The Town Chairman appoints a new Commissioner every year, as each member’s position terminates after five years of service.

A Seat at the Table of Power

We believe it’s time for a courageous African American, if one chooses, to have a seat at this table of power. We suspect it will be difficult work. If no African American chooses this opportunity, we encourage other People of Color, including but not limited to Hmong, Latinx, others of Asian ancestry, etc. and women to consider this opportunity. 

We have no illusion that one Commissioner can work miracles in a traditionally biased and racist system, but like the incoming Cabinet at the Federal level, it would be a start.

We will be happy to meet with anyone interested and will support you in this endeavor. You need to live in Grand Chute and be a U.S. citizen. The application, which is fairly simple, is available here. Contact us at

[1] In the meantime, Officer Laluzerne resigned over a different matter.

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