After more than three decades of law enforcement experience under his belt, Sam Lathrop retired from the Beloit Police Department after disclosing information to the Beloit city manager regarding an intradepartmental relationship.
According to a GazetteXtra article dated July 14, 2009, “concerns about a personal relationship between former Beloit Police Chief Sam Lathrop and a subordinate led to his decision to retire.”
GazetteXtra.com is the website for The Janesville Gazette, a daily newspaper in Janesville, Wis.
Lathrop, who worked in the Beloit Police Department for 31 years, served as Beloit police chief for more than six years before retiring in 2009.
In a phone interview, he responded to the newspaper reports and said he “was not asked to leave” and it was a “mutual decision” between he and the Beloit city manager.
“I recognized some issues involved with having a relationship with a co-worker, especially when I was chief,” he said. “I approached the city manager … It was a mutual decision that we came to.”
The newspaper article that reported his departure from the department also said “there’s no specific anti-fraternization policy at the city,” but it paraphrases the city manager in that there are policies about unbecoming conduct, command level, maintaining certain ethical standards and standards of conduct.
In Lathrop’s mind, he made the correct decision in approaching the city manager about the relationship and “recognized it was an issue even though it wasn’t a violation of any policy of the department or the city.”
The article also reports the city manager learned of the relationship two months prior to Lathrop’s retirement.
“The local media thought I got my hand caught in the cookie jar … The reality is the city manager and I had been discussing it for probably the better part of three months, and then we finally realized that we just weren’t able to find a good solution,” Lathrop said, noting the city manager would verify all statements he made regarding his departure.
“I would only give up my chief job if I was sure it was a long-term commitment.”
Lathrop also said the relationship “never affected the department or safety of the city and community” because it was kept private until he approached the city manager about it.
According to Lathrop, he and the woman are engaged.
Lathrop said, while he was married during the relationship, “I was well on my way to a divorce.”
Lathrop listed a few things that are attractive about Columbus, including the diversity of the area as well as having nearby family.
“My dad retired just in Mississippi, outside of Tupelo. I visited Mississippi and enjoyed my visits there,” he said.
However, he is “no stranger to violent crime and the investigation of it” and he won’t shy away from any challenges.
“I like a good challenge,” he said.
Considering the three homicides that occurred during a five-day span in September in Columbus, Lathrop said he has experience investigating homicides.
“We averaged maybe two homicides a year on average,” he said about his time in Beloit. “Some years a little bit more. Some years a little bit less.”
He is big on looking for connections between incidents and using the community to help police solve the crimes.
“Police aren’t going to solve these things by themselves,” he said. “It’s going to take members of the community stepping up.”
Lathrop currently works as a law enforcement professional in the U.S. Army 4/10 Mountain Division, 2-30th Infantry Battalion.
He has two adult sons and currently lives in Beloit but was born and raised in Racine, Wis.
He graduated from the 177th session of the FBI National Academy in Quantico, Va., and earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wis.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Beloit reported a population of 36,966 in 2010. Columbus reported a population of 23,640 in 2010.