A Fitchburg alder released more than 70 pages of unredacted police reports that Fitchburg police had clearly marked as not to be re-released Monday, posting the documents in a Facebook group and emailing them to a reporter in an ongoing feud with community volunteer Wanda Smith. The documents were removed from the Facebook group by an administrator.
Smith said she has consulted a civil rights attorney but has not decided on whether to pursue any legal action.
Emails obtained by Madison365 late last month reveal that Alder Dorothy Krause, who also serves on the Dane County Board of Supervisors, felt that Smith was not fit to be around or supervise children,and that Krause had requested police records for Smith’s address.
Fitchburg Police said there would be no legal consequence for Krause. “The stamp on that report is advisory in nature,” said Lieutenant Chad Brecklin. “Our preference is that each requestor puts in a request for that report.”
Smith, who runs the Peace Network, meets three times a week to help at-risk youth with homework, meals and a safe environment. Krause told Madison365 in an interview two weeks ago that she wasn’t sure if Wanda Smith had the right temperament or educational credentials to run such a club. Krause said she would seek police reports on Wanda Smith and hoped to draw a conclusion about Smith’s abilities from those reports
Krause emailed copies of those reports to Madison365 Monday.
In the email sent Monday, Krause described the documents as “the results of my request seeking to determine the accuracy of rumors saying that Wanda Smith was evicted from her apartment due to her family being involved in fights and gun play in the area.”
Smith maintains she was not evicted and it’s unclear what relevance the police reports would have to any eviction rumor.
In addition to several pages listing police contacts, Krause obtained more than 56 pages of officer written synopsis of police contact at Wanda Smith’s address covering 176 calls between 2015 and 2017 to the building Smith’s apartment is in.
None of those incidents involved Wanda Smith as a target of police action or intervention. At no time was she arrested or questioned by police concerning her conduct. Smith was never detained, investigated or reported as having been the target of a police response to that area.
Among the dozens of reports from that area only two reports even mention Wanda Smith by name that Madison365 was able to obtain.
One report says Smith was asked if she saw a fight between teenagers, and another report describes officers providing assistance to Smith’s daughter, who was having a personal health issue. Madison365 has chosen not to reveal the nature of that issue.
Krause, in her earlier interview with Madison, said that she is a truth seeker and wanted to find out the truth about Wanda Smith. The police reports from the City of Fitchburg do not appear to support Krause’s claims about Smith. The only truth they appeared to provide is that Wanda Smith has not ever been charged or even investigated for any behavior.
Krause says that despite the records not showing any direct behavior of Wanda Smith, many of the reports detail actions taken by family members of hers. She maintains that rumors of violence perpetrated by Smith’s family members shows that she could potentially be unfit to lead the children’s organization.
“The rumor was that her family was involved,” Krause told Madison365 today. “I don’t know if she’s in charge of her family or not but I do presume she has some influence over them. The only reason that it’s a concern is if she’s having those kind of problems within her whole family. In most childcare situations there’s a background check involved. I don’t know what a background check would include or show for her. But that’s why I asked our city administrator Patrick Marsh if someone doing that programming on behalf of the city should have a background check. She has received one $5,000 grant and an additional $150,000 from the city. So the city is investing in her and sponsoring her. I don’t know if the city could potentially be held liable if something crazy happens on city land.”
It is not clear what $150,000 Krause was referring to.
Krause maintained that she truly was seeking facts to make a determination within her own mind concerning Wanda Smith and that the media, specifically Madison365, blew this story up. Krause said she did not plan to do anything with the information she received in the police reports except discuss the matter with Patrick Marsh, the Fitchburg police and have a private meeting with Wanda Smith to discuss the information.
“I was not intending to do anything other than make the request, involve others on the council, talk to the police and Wanda,” Krause said. “I didn’t intend to make an issue out of it. I had gotten concerns from many people and the one rumor in particular that her family was involved in gun play. I wanted to get information about it. I was concerned about rumors I was hearing and I wanted to verify facts.”
Krause said she could not remember who specifically came to her with rumors about Wanda Smith but that there had been internal discussions involving the Fitchburg Common Council about Smith and things council members were hearing.
Ultimately, Krause said that it is important to her that Wanda Smith ceases making public and inflammatory comments about her. Krause says that Wanda Smith has taken to several social media and website platforms to attack Krause. She said that she had hoped getting to the bottom of these rumors would help her find an avenue through which to fight back against Smith’s attacks.
But, upon reading the reports that do not directly indicate bad behavior on Smith’s part, Krause says she has resigned herself to knowing that Smith will continue to attack her unchecked.
“It means she’s going to keep beating up on me,” Krause said of the lack of evidence of Smith’s wrongdoings in the police reports. “Whatever’s in her head she takes and twists and distorts it to meet whatever she wants it to mean. I told her that I’m done having her beating on me. She’s been doing it for a long time.”
Smith spoke with fire and vitriol at a public budget hearing last month about Mayor Jason Gonzalez’s decision to defund the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County and Badger Prairie Needs Network. During her speech in front of the Fitchburg Common Council, Wanda Smith attacked Dorothy Krause by name. Krause insists that none of the seeking of police reports about Wanda Smith is in retribution of that. Indeed, the emails sent by Krause to the other members of the council seeking damaging information about Smith did pre-date the public budget hearing. The budget process continues tonight with a public hearing on budget amendments at 7:30 pm.
Robert Chappell contributed to this report.