With Ward stepping down, the common council approved to retain Public Administration Associates, LLC to assist in hiring a police chief. The company will also conduct an audit of the city’s police department, which Wojnicz said will make recommendations for how the city can make better public safety decisions.
“We are just doing our due diligence and finding out maybe that we are just doing some things that aren’t up to the current standards,” he said of the audit. “We may find out nothing. We’re not looking to find anything.”
A voicemail left for Ward at the police department says he will be out of the office until March 2. In an email provided to the Dells Events in a Feb. 16 records request, Ward said he will make his retirement public after the proposal is accepted and issue the city a letter indicating his plans.
Ward has been with the police department for 32 years. The 1984 graduate of Wisconsin Dells High School started out as a part-time officer in 1989 before moving to a full-time officer in February 1990. From 1995 until 2000, he served as the liaison officer with Wisconsin Dells School District. He was promoted to lieutenant in March 2003 and in November of that same year became assistant chief.
Ward’s years as police chief haven’t come without controversy. In October 2018, Ward was suspended for two weeks without pay in connection to a letter he wrote as police chief that was cited during the drunken driving sentencing of James S. Connors, 56, co-owner and manager of Nig’s Bar in downtown Wisconsin Dells. Ward never spoke publicly about his suspension.