Special prosecutor takes over investigation into Richland Center police chief

Special prosecutor takes over investigation into Richland Center police chief
Lt. Lucas Clements

A special prosecutor will take over an investigation into Richland Center Police Chief Lucas Clements after the Division of Criminal Investigation wrapped up its portion of the investigation.

Gillian Drummond, a spokesperson for the state Department of Justice, said the Richland County Circuit Court ordered a special prosecutor be appointed to continue the investigation. Normally the case would be handed to the District Attorney, Jennifer Harper, but is not in this case due to a conflict of interest.

Richland Center Mayor Mike Kaufman said Thursday he doesn’t know what is going on with the investigation, but he said the city will receive an update in “several weeks.” He said the city was originally told it would hear more on Aug. 29.

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

The state began an investigation into Clements in June, though it won’t reveal what wrongdoing exactly the agency is investigating.

The city police and fire commission put Clements on paid administrative leave immediately following the start of the investigation, appointing Lt. Billy Jones as acting chief in the interim.

Kaufman 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.

Editor’s note: a previous version of this story said the state hired a special prosecutor. It has been edited to clarify the order to appoint the prosecutor came from court.

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