WEST ALLIS - West Allis Police Chief Charles Padgett is now speaking out about the former officer he once served with, now charged with stuffing two women into suitcases and dumping them along a road in Walworth County.
As reported, personnel records show officer Steven Zelich was disciplined five times in four months back in 2001. The department found out Zelich was going to strip clubs during his shift, using his time and the State's resources to stalk women and filing false reports to cover his tracks.
Padgett became the Chief of the West Allis Police Department in 2013. He wasn't at that level when Zelich was a police officer at West Allis, they did cross paths. Padgett recalls being a patrol officer for less than a year when Zelich was hired to work his shift in 1989.
"I knew who he was, I would say hi but that was about it," said Chief Padgett, who remembers when Zelich resigned, but at the time, didn't know why. Now, he has a better idea.
Padgett personally looked through all of Zelich's personnel files before releasing them to the public. That's when he learned that Zelich had a troubling pattern, that led to his resignation.
At least 5 incidents starting in May of 2001, all similar in nature because they all involved young women.
"its important to notice those patterns and react to those patterns like the other chief did then, as I read in his investigation," said Padgett.
Padgett believes the investigation into the complaints against Zelich was handled appropriately at the time. Adding that the Zelich case will not be damaging to this department. If anythig, they'll learn from it.
"One former employee that is doing something horrendous or accused of doing something horrendous, isn't the entire department," said Padgett.
Chief Padgett also wanted to emphasize that his thoughts are with the victims and their families as they deal with this troubling situation that involves a former West Allis Police officer.