Wisconsin law allow a municipal police officer to simultaneously serve
on the governing body of his or her employer municipality?
No. The compatibility of office doctrine prohibits a municipal
employee from simultaneous service on the governing body of his or her
municipal employer. Otradovec v. City of Green Bay 118 Wis.2d
393, 347 N.W.2d 614 (Ct. App. 1984). This rule is not rendered
inapplicable by either Wis. Stat. secs. 164.015 or 164.06.
Section 164.015 provides that “[n]o law enforcement officer may be
prohibited from engaging in political activity when not on duty or not
otherwise acting in an official capacity. . . .” Although the section
protects a law enforcement officer’s right to engage in political
activity, it does not specifically authorize the officer to serve on the
governing body of his or her municipality while also being employed by
the municipality on a part-time or full-time basis. Thus, sec. 164.015
does not remove the common-law incompatibility between the position of
police officer and the elective office of alderperson, trustee, mayor or
Section 164.06 allows a police officer to be a candidate for
elective office. The term “candidate” is not defined in chapter 164.
However, Wis. Stat. sec. 11.01(1) defines “candidate” as “every person
for whom it is contemplated or desired that votes be cast at any
election held within this state, other than an election for national
office, whether or not the person is elected or nominated, and who
either tacitly or expressly consents to be so considered.” The term is
also defined as “a person who seeks an office, honor, etc., or a person
who is selected by others as a contestant for an office, honor, etc.”
The Random House Dictionary of The English Language, 304 (2d ed.,
unabridged). Once a police officer is elected to the position of
alderperson, he or she would no longer be a candidate under either
definition. Thus, 164.06 would not remove the common-law incompatibility
between the position of police officer and the elective office of
alderperson, trustee, mayor or village president.