A Wisconsin city must release the complete personnel file of a local police officer convicted of drunk driving in a settlement reached with the Herald Times Reporter.
The previously unreleased portions of the file revealed that officer Michaelyn Culligan must submit to 12 random alcohol tests a year for the next three years, in addition to the 15-day suspension she received that was publicly announced. She was also fined $803 and had her driver’s license suspended for eight months. In the “last chance agreement” negotiated between Culligan, the police union and Police Chief Tony Dick, she admitted that by drinking and driving she had “engaged in serious acts of misconduct.” Culligan is also director of the state’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education association.
The Herald Times Reporter requested a copy of Culligan’s personnel file under the Wisconsin Open Records Law and noticed that several sections were missing without explanation. The newspaper sued, alleging that the city of Manitowoc had violated the state’s open records law by improperly redacting portions of the file.
Manitowoc claimed that the missing information was protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The city settled the lawsuit by agreeing to release the full file and pay the newspaper’s legal fees.