Tea’s mayor says the city is still discussing its hiring practice for a new police chief. Brian Ketterhagen resigned from the position along with another officer earlier this month. A replacement search is already underway.
“We proceed the exact same way as we did in the past. We advertise it like we are doing and have started. We narrow it down,” Tea Mayor John Lawler said during the council’s regularly scheduled Monday night meeting.
Lawler spoke only briefly about the police chief and police officer vacancies. The council met for just less than an hour in executive session for personnel matters before Lawler talked about the police department.
“We meet all the minimum standards plus some based on what's required by the state as far as background checks, the licensing, certification,” Lawler said.
Former Police Chief Brian Ketterhagen is facing allegations of withholding evidence in a Wyoming cold case in order to gain a conviction. That happened before he came to South Dakota but the allegations did not surface when Ketterhagen was hired. It's also not believed to be the reason for his resignation.
“When he was hired he was certified. He hadn't been certified in the state of South Dakota, which he did,” Lawler said.
Lawler says the city is looking for guidance from the state Chief of Police Association as it examines tweaking its hiring requirements. For now that process continues.
“We'll keep looking until the position is filled,” Lawler said.
The city is fully staffed at six police officers. Assistant Chief Brian Tvedt is manning the department until a new chief is found. Tvedt has previously said it has enough manpower to staff the department 24/7 and continue responding to all types of calls until replacements are hired. He says the residents should not notice any changes.