Report released regarding Chippewa County Sheriff investigation

Published: Oct. 3, 2023 at 11:57 AM CDT
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CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wis (WEAU) - A nearly 100-page report on the investigation into the conduct of Chippewa County Sheriff Hakes was obtained by WEAU late Tuesday morning.

It outlines the findings of the investigation launched back in May.

It began with the complaint of harassment and discrimination filed by a new employee with the Sheriff’s Office on May 19th.

The investigation would go on for months, starting with the communications between that employee and Sheriff Hakes.

The text messaging, that started two days before that employee started working, was deemed in the report as inappropriate per department and county policies.

When County and Department leadership informed the Sheriff about the complaint, the investigation states he said he was trying to make the employee feel welcomed.

Sheriff Hakes said in a response to the report, he would never invite employees to events unless everyone else was invited. He also denied any wrongdoing with the employee.

The investigation also revealed other aspects to Sheriff Hakes’ performance on the job.

The report claimed staffers said Sheriff Hakes was absent a lot, with his Chief Deputy and the Lieutenants being present more.

Sheriff Hakes said in response to that, people do not understand his job duties.

He was also accused of misusing county funds and causing a potential liability issue for the county during Rockfest 2023.

A section of the report went on to say staffers viewed the Sheriff as a “loose canon” and “keeps bypassing policies and procedures.”

There were also concerns of him getting around the rules to hire personal friends.

The report concludes with saying Sheriff Hakes’ problematic conduct and lack of leadership creates liability and safety risks for the county and public.

Sheriff Hakes’ response concludes with calling the investigation as having political motives.

The full report and response can be found below.

CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) - Officials are releasing a report regarding an investigation into Chippewa County Sheriff Travis Hakes.

The report regards misconduct accusations.

The report released says he was investigated for accusations of inappropriate and unwanted text messages and concerns about his honesty as the County’s Sheriff.

According to these documents obtained by WEAU, the investigation launched on June 20 of this year. The report states Sheriff Hakes sent text messages with another employee in the Sheriff’s Department that were quote “unequivocally sexual in nature.”

The report goes on to say County and department leaders spoke with the Sheriff about his communication towards this staff members, to which he said he was trying to make her feel welcome.

In Sheriff Hakes’ response, he says the report demonstrates a fundamental lack of respect for the roles of an elected and independent Sheriff.

He adds this is largely driven by people with a political agenda who don’t like the decision of Chippewa County voters.