MARSHFIELD — A 21-year veteran of the Marshfield Police Department is fighting to get his job back after being fired for failing a quarter-mile run test by 30 seconds, according to his union.
The Wisconsin Professional Police Association has filed a grievance over the firing of Officer Jared Beauchamp, and a meeting about the issue is scheduled for Friday, said Jim Palmer, the association’s executive director. The union is prepared to take legal action against the city if Beauchamp isn’t re-instated, Palmer said.
“In this case, Jared Beauchamp’s job was terminated because he can’t run as fast as some arbitrary time set by the police chief,” Palmer said. “It has nothing to do with his ability to do his job.”
Palmer said Beauchamp’s time was 30 seconds too long on a quarter-mile run. Beauchamp can’t run as fast as other officers because of a line-of-duty injury he suffered several years ago, Palmer said.
Marshfield Police Chief Rick Gramza said he could not talk about the personnel situation because it is an ongoing issue. The current standards are the result of a process that started in 2016, was implemented in 2018 and went live in 2019, Gramza said. The city’s contract with the union has had language since 2018 that supports the process, Gramza said.
The contract states, “Marshfield Police Department officers will be required to pass an annual job-specific fitness test to measure their ability to perform the necessary minimum physical requirements for specific job tasks.” The contract lists May 1, 2019, as the effective date for the requirements.
The contract also says an officer who fails the test will be put on light-duty assignment at the discretion of the chief for 90 days and will retest. If a medical condition causes the officer to fail the test, the city will consider reasonable accommodations, according to the contract.
Ending an officer’s job for failing to pass the test is not consider misconduct and is decided by the chief, according to the contract.
Gramza said the standards set were not arbitrary and that medical providers and attorneys examined them. Grandfathering veteran officers in without their meeting minimum job standards is not an option, he said.
“Our community expects us to run toward danger, to protect those in harm’s way, and to be physically ready to fulfill our responsibilities as guardians for our community,” Gramza said later in an email to a News-Herald reporter.
Marshfield needs all of its officers to maintain a state of physical readiness by being able to meet the minimum physical standards required by the department’s annual physical readiness test, Gramza said.
“We do not believe the public would want us to compromise on this basic fundamental expectation,” he said.
The test is discriminatory and penalizes older officers, Palmer said. Beauchamp’s case will not be the last grievance the union files in connection to physical testing, he said.
The Marshfield News-Herald became aware of Beauchamp’s situation when community members began a social media campaign to bring awareness to the the 21-year veteran’s firing. Some have changed their Facebook profile photos to a flag with the words “We stand with 159,” referring to Beauchamp’s police number.
Facebook posts describe the posters’ beliefs that Beauchamp is a valuable member of the department. Beauchamp is the most effective person on scene when it comes to a call involving a person with a mental health crisis, one poster said.
“His skill, ability to relate, gain trust and converse with a person in a high stress situation is something our industry cannot afford to lose,” the poster said.
Another poster said she worked with Beauchamp when they were at the same sheriff’s department. Beauchamp is an amazing officer and human being, she said.
Beauchamp took first place in rapid-fire shooting at a statewide competition in 2003, according to Marshfield News-Herald archives. He also was part of a shooting team that took first place in a Class C team shooting competition in 2004 and part of a team that took fourth place in Class D in 2015.
Beauchamp was promoted to lead officer in 2012, according to archives. He graduated from the Marshfield Area Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Leadership Program in April 2016.
When contacted by phone Wednesday morning, Beauchamp said he wanted to check with union officials before talking to a reporter about his situation to be sure it would not weaken his position with the grievance procedure. He had not returned the call to the reporter by early Wednesday afternoon.