Martin Freibergs, the fire chief in Hales Corners, has retired from his post effective immediately, hours before he was to receive a performance evaluation and two weeks after one of his captains resigned over accusations of abandoning his post and sexually harassing a subordinate.
News of the retirement stunned Daniel Besson, the village president, and Ian Thomson, the chair of the police and fire commission, which was supposed to convene the evening of April 29 to evaluate Freibergs’ job performance. His retirement letter offered no explanations.
“I don’t know why he retired,” Besson said. “It took us totally by surprise.”
Village officials received Freibergs’ letter shortly before noon April 29. Village Police Chief Eric Cera was sworn in as acting fire chief within two hours to ensure continuity of service, but the village is expected to name someone else for the interim position in the near future, Thomson said.
Freibergs, a 28-year veteran of the department who was named chief in May 2018, had seemingly just finished navigating a controversy that erupted in January involving one of his captains.