Onalaska’s assistant police chief was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday after being named in connection with Sunday’s drunken driving arrest of the city’s fire chief.

Onalaska Assistant Chief Jeffrey Cavender


City Administrator Eric Rindfleisch offered no further details Thursday regarding Assistant Police Chief Jeffery Cavender.

“At this time all I can state is that the assistant police chief is on paid administrative leave,” Rindfleisch said.

Onalaska Fire Chief Billy D. Hayes

Onalaska Fire Chief Billy D. Hayes

Onalaska Fire Chief William D. Hayes, who is also on paid administrative leave, was arrested Sunday for a speed violation and drunken driving, according to the police report.

When police told Hayes why they stopped him, Hayes said, “Yeah, I’m the fire chief,” according to the complaint.

Hayes told police that he was just with Cavender and had a couple of beers, according to the police report.

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Police asked Hayes if he had any other OWIs while handcuffing him. Hayes said no and proceeded to say, “You just ruined my career,” according to the police report.

“What I don’t understand is that I’m the fire chief and you’re going to do me this way,” Hayes said while performing the field sobriety test, which he failed. Police said Hayes admitted to consuming alcohol and that the officer could smell intoxicants.

Onalaska Police Chief Troy Miller requested that the La Crosse County District Attorney’s Office take over the case “to ensure a fair and impartial proceeding for Mr. Hayes,” in a letter to Tim Gruenke, La Crosse County’s district attorney.

In 2018, the city of Somerton, Ariz., dismissed Cavender after the Somerton City Council voted 5-2 against renewing his contract because he didn’t comply with several terms of the contract, according to KYMA-TV.

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(11) comments


How's that working for you Onalaska? Onalaska watch dot blog spot dot com


Onalaskas police has been corrupted with problems from the very start.


I should clarify. The vast majority of meeting go to closed session minutes after starting. During selection discussions meetings were public. But P&F meetings are "on call", meaning very few people know they are being held. During selection meetings guess who showed up? Police officers. Onalaska's problems will never get better until the P&F are dragged from the darkness into the light.


Yes, this officer has had troubles in his past. Look it up, it goes beyond the single incidence noted by the Tribune. Why did they hire him? Because they hold nothing but off the record meetings in the P&F Commission. Never room for public input.


Why did onalaska hire chief if he was dismissed by his former employer?


Are you arguing that being dismissed by an employer should mean a person should never be employed again?


Well, Cassandra, dismissed means fired, so I would be very careful about hiring a prospective employee who had been terminated from his last position.


Scott Walker was dismissed by Wisconsin voters. So in your mind he should never hold employment again.


Woopsy. Looks like Ol' Billy boy ratted out his friend on his way out.

Luce Wheel

No, you have it wrong. Billy boy was set up for DUI by Cavender because Hayes opposed Onalaska joining the LA Crosse regional fire system.

But all of this falls on the complete ineptitude of Joe Chilsen.


Please provide documentation for your slanderous claims. We're all waiting.

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