Meetings are open to the public and meeting notice is given in advance of each meeting.
The Police Commission is empowered by Wisconsin Statute 62.13. It is an autonomous body of 5 city residents who are appointed by the mayor. Commissioners serve 5 year terms and may be reappointed. Its meetings are open to the public and noticed in advance. Commissioners are not compensated for their service.
The Police Commission:
Appoints, suspends or removes the police chief and police officers
Approves all appointments made by the police chief including promotions of police officers
Approves competitive examinations used to judge suitability for appointment as police officers
Approves each list of individuals eligible for appointment as police officers
Suspends the police chief and/or police officers pending the filing and hearing of charges against them
Initiates charges against the police chief or any police officer
Hears appeals of disciplinary actions initiated by the police chief against a police officer
History of Police Commissions
Police Commissions date back to a time, a century ago, when the Wisconsin Legislature enacted a measure establishing such commissions as municipal bodies. Recognizing the critical role of police officers in assuring the public's safety, the legislature believed that by creating an independent body, one that no political party could come to dominate, the selection and removal of police officers would be insulated from partisan politics.
Although the number of commissions serving Wisconsin communities (approximately 150 cities, towns, and villages have commissions), and complexity of problems commissions deal with have changed, the purpose, role and responsibilities of Police Commissions are essentially unchanged from the 1890s.
Wisconsin law specifies that a city with a population of 4,000 or more must create a Police Commission. Although the population of Prescott is more than 4,000 today, the city chose to create a Police Commission many years ago when the population was under 4,000.