CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – We have more information on the investigation into Chippewa County Sheriff Travis Hakes. A nearly 100-page report outlines the findings of the investigation launched back in May. First News at Nine’s Daniel Gomez spent the day sifting through the report and has more.
A new dispatcher for the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office filed a complaint on May 19th. That triggered an investigation into Sheriff Travis Hakes that would go on for several months. The complaint from the unnamed employee lays out communications with the sheriff deemed inappropriate per department and county policies. That employee said the text messaging began a couple of days before her start date. And would go on for a few weeks.
When county and department leaders informed the sheriff of the complaint, the investigation states, he said he was trying to make the employee feel welcomed. Sheriff Hakes said in a response that he would never invite employees to events unless everyone was invited and denied any wrongdoing with that employee.
The investigation also revealed other aspects of Sheriff Hakes’ performance on the job. The report claims staffers say Sheriff Hakes was absent a lot with his Chief Deputy and the Lieutenants being present more. Sheriff Hakes says in response people don’t understand his job duties.
He was also accused of misusing county funds and causing a potential liability issue for the county during Rockfest. But a section of the report says staffers viewed the sheriff as a “loose cannon” and kept bypassing policies and procedures. There were also concerns about him getting around the rules to hire personal friends.
The report concludes Sheriff Hakes’s problematic conduct and lack of leadership create liability and safety risks for the county and the public. Sheriff Hakes’ response concludes with calling the investigation as having political motives.
This saga continues with the County Board at next week’s meeting. Members will discuss where to go next with Sheriff Travis Hakes. One option could include removal and requires the governor to authorize a special election.