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Tea Mayor: City Hiring Following Resignations

November 14, 2012, 5:59 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Tea Mayor: City Hiring Following Resignations

The mayor of Tea says they are already searching for a new police chief following the resignation of Brian Ketterhagen last week. Ketterhagen resigned along with Tea Police Officer James Klimple.

There are no details about the resignations but the South Dakota Attorney General's Office is investigating possible misconduct.

This is the second time the small town outside of Sioux Falls has lost its police chief in the past two years.

There have been more questions this week surrounding the resignation of Ketterhagen after a lawsuit from Wyoming came to light. It accuses Ketterhagen of withholding evidence in a cold case in that state in order to get a conviction.

The Lincoln County State's Attorney says it’s now prudent to review cases in Tea that Ketterhagen worked on because of those allegations.

Tea Mayor John Lawler says its police department of a half dozen is a benefit for the small city and the city is already trying to move forward by hiring new officers.

"I think having a department involved in our community is a positive for us just because people learn who these officers are, they become friends with them, they recognize them, they're very involved," Lawler said.

Despite news that Ketterhagen is involved in that Wyoming lawsuit, Lawler says the Wyoming allegations never surfaced when they hired him. The lawsuit was only filed about two months ago.

"Brian was hired by us in July of 2010, started in August of 2010 that first trial [in Wyoming] happened prior to this," Lawler said.

Those allegations also aren't believed to be connected to Ketterhagen's resignation.

But as the city looks to hire two new police officers, including its second police chief in two years, Lawler says Tea is committed to providing that small town protection residents have come to expect.

"We have our regular next meeting on Monday where we'll be taking a look at how we want to change anything within the department if we want to have different responsibilities with the chief of police position, the assistant position or how it's going to function."

Lawler says they hired an outside independent third party to do a background check on Ketterhagen when they hired him back in 2010.

Ketterhagen was hired in 2010 following Ken Haugen's controversial departure from the department.

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