Wisconsin Fire Chief Suspended Over Slur

Fire Chief Jay Behling suspended for 90 days without pay for using the N-word five times in front of employees of the all-white Fire Department. SOUTH MILWAUKEE, Wis. -- The city's all-white Police and Fire Commission decided Wednesday to suspend Fire...


The other African-American who testified, Milwaukee firefighters union President Bobbie Webber, said supervisors in the Milwaukee Fire Department who have made racist statements have been fired.

Roughly half the audience showed support for Behling by wearing stickers that said, "We support Jay." One of them, South Milwaukee resident Tara Withington, said before the hearing that she has known Behling for 25 years and he should remain as chief.

"He made a mistake. He owned up to it. He accepted his suspension. He apologized," she said.

In an interview Monday, Mihelich had accused the union of having "an ax to grind" in seeking to have Behling fired or demoted. He said the union wants the chief out because of a dispute it has with the city over staffing.

The union's lawyer, Kiel, denied the accusation. He said the union filed the charges with the Police and Fire Commission because the city did no investigation of Behling's slurs before the three-day suspension was issued.

In the formal charges, the union contends that the city has lost confidence in Behling and that he will be unable to "effectively represent" the Fire Department in dealings with other emergency services agencies in surrounding communities.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service