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Police Chief On Leave After Testifying At Hearing

March 9, 2011, 6:37 PM by Erich Schaffhauser

Police Chief On Leave After Testifying At Hearing
HURON, SD - The police chief in Huron is on administrative leave after making controversial comments to a state senate committee.

Doug Schmitt was testifying in favor of a bill Monday morning that would make it a state crime to hire illegal immigrants. He told lawmakers he knew of employers in the area who had knowingly hired illegal workers.

By Monday night, the city had placed him on administrative leave.

The city doesn't have a timeline set up to determine how to address the comments. The city attorney simply says it will be a thorough process followed by appropriate action.

The South Dakota legislative website still has audio of the comments that led to the chief's being placed on administrative leave. He mentioned two processing plants in the area.

"We have confidential informants that have been inside both facilities for a length of time and they tell us that if you make application there and you don't have any documentation, documentation will be provided for you so that you can have gainful employment with them," Schmitt said during the Monday hearing.

Schmitt didn't list specific companies. But one description appears to match Dakota Provisions, a turkey processing plant in town. Its board chairman says that statement isn't true. In fact, he says the plant verifies employees through two different programs and if they find illegal immigrants, they're fired.

Schmitt says he doesn't want to comment yet because the issue is still up in the air.

The legislature's website lists Schmitt as speaking on his own behalf, not the city's. But, he did identify himself as Huron's police chief when testifying.

The city attorney says Huron's deputy chief is leading the department as Schmitt is on leave.

To hear Schmitt's testimony click on this link (about 38 minutes in).

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