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Arbitrator orders re-hiring of La Crosse County sheriff's deputy

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LA CROSSE, WI (WTAQ) - A state arbitrator has ordered La Crosse County to re-hire a sheriff’s deputy who was fired for causing a traffic death while on duty.

The Wisconsin Employment Relations Commission also ordered 20 months of back pay for Deputy Trisha Stratman.

The firing came soon after Stratman was found not guilty of negligent homicide in the 2010 death of 16-year-old Brandon Jennings. The officer was rushing to Holmen to help officers with a tavern disturbance, when she drove through a red light at 90 miles an hour and killed Jennings after his car entered the intersection from one of her sides.

The arbitrator agreed that Stratman violated a sheriff’s policy by not slowing down at the intersection – but it wasn’t enough to fire her.

The WERC ordered a 30 day suspension. The state’s professional police association represented Stratman in appealing her dismissal. The group’s director, Jim Palmer, said Stratman is eager to get back to work, but it would take a while. 

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