Panel decides officer’s fate but delays announcement

Grafton commission will release document detailing decision in disciplinary case brought by police chief


Ozaukee Press staff

The Village of Grafton’s Police and Fire Commission is expected to announce a decision in the disciplinary case against Sgt. Justin Lawrenz brought by Police Chief Jeff Caponera on June 2.

Commission Chairman Paul Moroder said the commission met in closed session for about 4-1/2 hours to deliberate Monday.

They reached a decision, he said, and have authorized attorney Nathan Bayer to craft a document detailing the decision and the reasoning behind it.

They hope to have a draft of the decision by June 2, when it will be reviewed by commission members who will then sign it and distribute it.

The written document will outline not just the commission’s decision but any action it recommends be taken, Moroder said.

The commission met twice in April to hear a misconduct case brought by Caponera, who is seeking to fire Lawrenz.

The hearing was prompted by an 11-count complaint that outlined incidents dating back to 2021 and was filed by Caponera.

The incidents, Caponera said in the complaint, demonstrate “a pattern of behavior that has eroded my confidence in his ability to continue as a police officer with the Grafton Police Department.”

Lawrenz started with the department in 2013 and was promoted to sergeant in December 2020. He has been on administrative leave since November.

Attorney Joel Aziere, who represents Caponera, outlined the charges during the hearing, saying, “This is a pattern of behavior over a year and a half. The chief has gone to great lengths to rehabilitate Sgt. Lawrenz ... to turn him into the sergeant the chief thought he could be.”

But Lawrenz’s attorney, William Rettko, said the issues between the sergeant and Caponera all sprang from the fact that in October the chief proposed that the department’s sergeants be moved out of the union, something Lawrenz opposed.

“It was due to his opposition the chief has decided ‘you can’t be in my chain of command,’” Rettko said. “That’s how this all started.”



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