Richland Center’s police chief is still on leave. Here’s what we know about the investigation so far
RICHLAND CENTER, Wis. — People in Richland Center are ready for answers to their questions surrounding the ongoing investigation into Police Chief Lucas Clements.
Cecile Even, who lives near the city, said the lack of information is only making people speculate.
“Why don’t we know anything yet?” Even said. “We don’t know. It’s frustrating.”
A spokesperson for the state Department of Justice, Gillian Drummond, said a special prosecutor is taking over the investigation after the Division of Criminal Investigation wrapped up its portion. She said a court ordered the appointment in lieu of passing it to the Richland County district attorney to avoid a conflict of interest.
CLARIFICATION: The court ordered the special prosecutor be appointed. Normally the case would go to the district attorney at this point, but the circuit court ordered the prosecutor to avoid a conflict of interest. https://t.co/VELepi491j
— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) August 23, 2019
Richland Center Mayor Mike Kaufman first confirmed the appointment of the special prosecutor to News 3 Now on Thursday, but he said he “doesn’t know what’s going on with the investigation.” He said he is “staying out of it” until the prosecutor finalizes the investigation, which could be several weeks, he said.
The state began an investigation into Clements in June, though it won’t reveal what wrongdoing exactly the agency is investigating.
The city Police Commission put Clements on paid administrative leave immediately following the start of the investigation, appointing Lt. Billy Jones as acting chief in the interim.
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
Kaufman said Clements has been collecting $38 an hour while on leave, which totals $12,160 before taxes over the eight weeks he has been out.
The mayor said if the special prosecutor finds wrongdoing, the city will hand the information to its private attorney to determine next steps, which could include firing Clements and appointing a new chief or keeping Jones in the position full time.
While Kaufman said he doesn’t know what’s going on with the investigation, he said he supports his Police Department and Sheriff’s Office, despite the ongoing controversy.
“I want to urge members of the community to respect the ruling of the prosecutor as we move forward,” Kaufman wrote in a column to the local newspaper. “I personally feel we have one of the finest law enforcement teams – police and sheriff’s departments – and I would trust my life to their decisions and expertise.”
Clements has been under investigation with the Police Department before, though it’s unclear if he has ever been put on leave. At last report, the chief at the time had not made a decision as to whether or not Clements would be put on leave.
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. pic.twitter.com/Ji4rGPYjVk
— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) June 21, 2019
When Clements was serving as a police lieutenant in 2013 he was cited with suspicion of a hit-and-run, driving left of center, inattentive driving and failure to notify police after officers 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.
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.
Two years later, in 2015, Clements was promoted to chief.
News 3 Now requested personnel records for both Clements and Jones when the investigation began in June and Jones was appointed acting chief. Two months later, the department has failed to provide the records.
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