Richland Center mayor puts chief on paid leave, appoints interim chief during investigation

Richland Center mayor puts chief on paid leave, appoints interim chief during investigation
Then Lt. Lucas Clements, before being promoted to chief.

The mayor of Richland Center has appointed an interim chief of police to fill in while Chief Lucas Clements is being investigated by the state. He has also put Clements on paid administrative leave.

As of Thursday Lt. Billy Jones, who has been with the department since 2004, will act as chief until the investigation is over, according to Mayor Mike Kaufman.

Jones said he was shocked to hear that Clements was put on leave, but he said he has hope the department can move past this.

“I guess just like any other career, we have ups and downs,” he said. “We have troubles, and whatever those troubles might be, you work through them and you move on.”

The Richland Center mayor has put the police chief on paid administrative leave while the state conducts an investigation. In the meantime, Lt. Billy Jones will fulfill the duties of chief. No one in the city will give further details on the nature of the investigation. #News3Now

— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) June 21, 2019

Officials with the Division of Criminal Investigation still won’t confirm that they are investigating Clements. The chairman of the police commission and the mayor said an investigation is ongoing and they haven’t been told any details about the reasons for it. They refer questions to DCI.

The police commission chairman said he isn’t allowed to discuss more details at the direction of a lawyer appointed by the city.

Learning more about the chief’s history, including in 2013 when he was cited for suspicion of a hit-and-run (among other things). Here’s an agreement where he pleads guilty to some of the charges, which are then dismissed. These records have since been removed from public view.

— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) June 21, 2019

Though News 3 Now has been unable to confirm what sparked the investigation, court records document previous charges against Clements while he was serving as a lieutenant within the department.

In 2013 police said they found a vehicle that belonged to Clements on a guardrail and said the driver had been at a local bar. They said the driver had been given a ride to his parents’ home.

Clements was cited with suspicion of a hit-and-run, driving left of center, inattentive driving and failure to notify police. Documents from Richland County show an arrangement among the district attorney of Crawford County, a special prosecutor from Richland County and Clements in which Clements pleaded guilty to the charges and the cases were dismissed.

This crash also sparked an internal investigation at Richland Center Police Department.

Two years later, in 2015, Clements was promoted to chief.

Kevin Burkhamer, who grew up in the community, said he doesn’t think Clements deserves to be chief.

“I’d like to see him lose his job and face the charges that the rest of us would have to face, like he should,” he said. “He’s just a person no different than you or I are, and he should be held accountable.”

Burkhamer, who is currently facing charges by the district attorney, said the police are harassing his son for his beliefs that the police department is corrupt.

Jones said allegations of corruption just are not true and the community needs to stay positive and get through this.

“Whatever is happening will be figured out at some point in time,” Jones said. “I think we just need to wait and see what the outcome is.”

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