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Kenosha County Sheriff’s Race: Discipline

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Sgt. David Zoerner (R) and Deputy James Simmons (D)

Republican David Zoerner and Democrat James Simmons will both be on the ballot for the November 8, 2022 general election for Kenosha County Sheriff. Zoerner is a Sergeant for the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department and has been on the department for more than 23 years. For four years before that, Zoerner was a Military Police Officer in the Marine Corps. Simmons is a Deputy on the Lake County, Illinois Sheriff’s department, but KCE doesn’t know for how long.

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KCE believes that knowledge is power and voters should have as much information as possible to make an informed decision come time to vote. In this first segment, we will be diving into the two candidates’ disciplinary files to see if there is any serious misconduct, excessive force, or any other items of note.

KCE made a public records request for the disciplinary files for Deputy Simmons and Sgt. Zoerner. The Lake County Sheriff’s department responded to KCE that there was no active discipline in the personnel file of Deputy Simmons. We emailed and texted Deputy Simmons to ask if he would share his expired disciplinary file with us. He didn’t respond to KCE. What we do know, and it is public knowledge, is that Deputy Simmons was at one time promoted to the Detective Bureau at the Lake County Sheriff’s Office but was demoted at some point to the rank of Deputy, the rank he holds today. We also requested Sgt. Zoerner’s personnel file. According to the Kenosha County Corporation Counsel, Sgt. Zoerner’s file is currently not releasable to the public because of an active Kenosha Circuit Court case. We asked Zoerner about this and he told us that before KCE’s request, he received an anonymous request for items within his personnel file from another source. Since the request was anonymous, Zoerner used his statutory right to block access to the anonymous requester until he can learn more about the group looking for this information. Even though we were only interested in active discipline within his file, Zoerner provided KCE with his entire personnel file on the condition that we didn’t release any personal identifying information, like his social security number, or address. From the oath that he took in 1999, until present day, we have it all. At this time, we are only interested in discipline. The most recent disciplinary item in Zoerner’s file was from June of 2019, and it expired in December of 2019. We gave Zoerner the opportunity to explain any or all of the items. He did. Let’s take a look:

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6/7/2019

Zoerner did not do a license check for a wedding venue. He received a verbal warning that expired on 12/20/2019.

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Zoerner’s response: “I forgot to assign a Deputy for this task. I later completed the task on my own.”

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8/26/2006

Zoerner did not keep his squad radio at the proper volume. He received a written warning that expired on 8/26/2007.

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Zoerner’s response: “The older squad radios switch was easily knocked around by our duty belts and must have moved the volume knob.”

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5/25/2006

Zorner missed a monthly training session. He received a verbal warning that expired on 12/20/06.

Zoerner’s response: “I forgot about this training session. I was working third shift and the training was outside of my normal working hours. This was the first training session I missed and the last.”

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9/02/2005

Zoerner was found sleeping on duty. He was giving a written warning that expired on 9/14/06.

Zoerner’s response: “I was writing a report while in my squad car during third shift. I had all the lights on. I nodded off. I was struggling with sleep while working third shift and this prompted me to see my family doctor who recommended a sleep study. The result of the sleep study showed that I had severe sleep apnea. I began therapy and still receive therapy to this day and I no longer have any issues with being overly tired at work.

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4/10/2005

Zoerner spilled coffee in his squad car and damaged a switch.

Zoerner’s response: “I spilled coffee on the siren control switch. It was embarrassing because it caused the siren to randomly go off throughout the evening. It made the drive across the county interesting. Zoerner received a verbal warning which expired on 10/10/2005.

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4/28/2002

Zoerner damaged a department pager. Zoerner received a verbal warning that expired on 10/28/2002

Zoerner’s response: “I dropped my work-issued pager while off duty and accidentally ran it over with my snowblower.

In is unfortunate that Deputy Simmons will not disclose the reason for his demotion or his disciplinary records. Zoerner has never been suspended and was promoted in 2011, after 5 of his 6 letters of discipline.

**This is the first segment in a series that will discuss the race for Kenosha County Sheriff.**

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31 Responses

  1. I am concerned by this information.

    First, Kevin claims Deputy Simmons was demoted from detective but in a place where civil service protections are less than in Wisconsin it could be for reasons other than misconduct (i.e., change in administration).

    Zoerner’s file is much more troubling. Sleeping on duty and the radio issue are things that could impact public safety. That said, what’s troubling about the rest of this is how, pardon me, chicken shit it is. Who would want to work in such an abusive environment?

    I hope whoever gets elected sheriff stops this nonsense. I can see writing someone up for sleeping on duty or not answering the radio but the rest seems to be vindictive chicken shit.

    1. These minor imfractions are over 23 years. There are no serious things. Sleeping is the biggest. Probably should have been suspended a day or two. But i dont know how the inter workings of a sheriffs office works.

  2. I think you have very poor relationships and standing in all communities of color. Not defending any candidates infractions but I don’t think he would trust you in the same way zoerner did. Simmons would not trust that you would redact personal info or respect his responses in the same way you did the other candidate. So I don’t think this is a withholding issue rather a lack of trust in Kevin Matthewson. They don’t trust you from a media perspective or on any level tbh.

      1. Instead of calling names maybe consider building your reputation in all communities. I believe there is corruption everywhere and it would be nice if you actually could report it all as a trusted member of the media. I loved the things you’ve exposed in Pleasant Prairie, with Dave beth, ect. Don’t be discouraged but try and grow. I’ll pray for you too and not resort to name calling. Later

    1. This is the dumbest comment I’ve seen in a while. Randomly bringing in race, like a true racist focused on skin color. Let’s see if Simmons releases this information to anyone else then. He also can easily redact any personal info before giving it to Matthewson.

  3. Sounds like you have a personal grudge, Frank. And would rather have a liberal Illinoisian as our sheriff rather than someone local, who has served the local area for many years, and while not perfect, deserves a shot at a “promotion” to elected office. It’s time to tidy up this mess, and frankly, Democrats don’t have the get up and go to do it.

    1. Not at all just trying to clarify why one Candidate would share and the other one would not. I said nothing about Illinois people or the liberals lol. It sounds like you’re obsessed I need some help. I’ll pray for you

      1. And in need of some help***

        Sorry for the typo. Talk to text Doesn’t like to work in the gym lol. And I don’t sit around. Worried about Republicans or liberals or conspiracy theories like you seem to be lol

  4. I have always question people who work for agencies in Illinois and live in Wisconsin. Not to single Mr. Simmons out but I also know of Firefigjtets from Zion and Beach Park , one of our elected county board members retired from Highland Park but lived in Kenosha during his service time. Point being if your a public servant you should live in your community. If your a police officer of another state your in tune to that states laws and regulations. These regulations and laws don’t hold true when you cross state lines . I think a more important question is how these people administration wise. They will after all be spending a large amount of tax payer money.

  5. Thank you David Zoerner for stepping up and providing honest answers. Historically this hasn’t been the case of so many!

    1. I don’t know about Zoerner. He’s a chameleon. Ran as a Democrat and now switched to running as a Republican. Can he be trusted? A man’s word should mean something. If he wanted to take on Beth then he should have done it in the primary if he’s a real Republican.

  6. Detective positions in the Lake Co SO are not promotions, but specialized assignments. A deputy doesn’t get promoted into the investigations bureau or demoted out of it. He or she gets assigned there and can, for a variety of reasons and timelines, due to performance, personnel needs of the department, and length of tenure, be assigned back to patrol duty. James Simmons’ exit from investigations to patrol should not be held against him absent a clear, valid reason.

      1. Personnel rules and regulations are different in another state. I know somebody worked in the Lake County courthouse for decades and then when a new boss came in just about everyone was let go.

  7. I’ve talked to both, Mr. Simmons would not answer direct questions, mostly what he would have done different for the riots. I think him and Beth are on the same page, serve them cookies and coffee while out LEO’s stand in the gap protecting people and property.
    I think if you want a sting no BS sheriff the choice is easy and starts with a Z.

  8. I think this article is pretty useless. Neither of these candidates seems perfect and Zoerner’s disciplinary record reflects the vindictiveness of the present sheriff toward him. Simmons may have a similar situation. Not a deal breaker. Neither of these guys is the best and brightest and neither has offered much as to showing that they are qualified to be sheriff which in large measure is a public relations and management position. This is not East Jesus, Montana where the sheriff is on a pony chasing down desperadoes. It’s a multimillion dollar organization with three jails and hundreds of employees. Our sheriff (sorry, Charlie) shouldn’t be out and about playing cop but rather needs to do what it takes so that the cops and jail staff can do their. Zoerner has more experience but no fresh ideas. Simmons hasn’t given us much insight as to where he’s at. My take is that regardless of who wins it we the people will be the losers.

  9. Maybe what we need isn’t really a fresh set of ideas unless by fresh ideas you mean simple competence and not being a drunken idiot at country music festivals? We certainly don’t need a liberal from Illinois, a state which is collapsing under its own weight, coming up here and telling us how to run the gateway to Wisconsin for the criminals from illinois.

  10. What? Simmons has a problem with the ladies at work. Why don’t you look into that? I worked with him for 8 years. Let’s pray he don’t win the office would be a complete disaster

    1. Chris, why is this information about Simmons just now coming out? Was Simmons disciplined for this incident or any incidents? Simmons announce his candidacy over a year ago. This is sad coming from you. We know Zoerner is hiding his personnel files which is bad for Kenosha County. More desperate rumors about Simmons won’t help Zoerner win the sheriff race!

      1. Maybe he should be asked about his womanizing in the workplace. This guy has had more problems with the women at work then anyone In the LCSO. Simmons wife came into the office confronting Simmons about his cheating at work. He should have been removed then.

  11. So Kevin, do you support only Zoerner? I looked up your information and you are republican. If Simmons wins, you should work with him. At least he’s a moderate candidate and not multi-colored candidate. I love guns too! I don’t think all dems like Simmons because of his stance for supporting the 2nd amendment.

  12. I’ve worked with Simmons for many years as a female partner and he has no issues at work with women. There hasn’t been one complaint about Simmons. You’re just trying to take the focus off of Zoerner. It’s not going to work! Go Simmons!

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