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Elizabethtown police officer removed from duty

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James Richardson filed an appeal

By Sarah Bennett

An Elizabethtown police officer has been terminated pending an appeal hearing before the city’s civil service commission.

Officer James Richardson was suspended Nov. 26 with pay and his employment with Elizabethtown Police Department ended Dec. 1, City Attorney D. Dee Shaw said.

Asked what led to the termination, Shaw said policy prohibits the city from releasing information until the completion of Richardson’s appeal.

Richardson is not facing criminal charges, she said.

Richardson, who was assigned as a patrol officer with EPD for eight years, is appealing the decision, Shaw said Monday.

“He is going through his rights,” she said.

Contacted about Richardson’s termination, Virgil Willoughby, spokesman for the Elizabethtown Police Department, said Richardson was placed on “paid administrative leave pending the final employment separation process.”

“Until then, no further public statements shall be made,” Willoughby said.

Shaw is unsure when a hearing before the civil service commission will occur but said Kentucky law requires it to be held within 60 days.

According to Kentucky Revised Statute 15.520, when a complaint is taken from any individual alleging “abuse of official authority or a violation of rules and regulations of the department,” a signed and sworn affidavit of the complainant must be obtained.

If the complainant refuses, the statute stipulates the department may bring charges “if (it) can independently substantiate the allegations absent the sworn statement.”

If the hearing concludes in Richardson’s favor, he could be reinstated, Shaw said.

Asked if the department would fill Richardson’s position, Willoughby said EPD has been forced to operate with fewer officers in the past. In 2011, the department operated with 39 officers when former chief Ruben Gardner, two administrators and a patrol officer retired in the same week.

In the last year, he said EPD has increased its ranks to 49 officers and the department hired four new officers about three weeks ago.

In the past five years, Richardson earned honors in the Governor’s Impaired Driving Enforcement Awards and he was one of 70 certified drug recognition experts in the state.

Richardson, who was raised in Summit, previously served as a traffic investigator with the U.S. Army.

In May, he told The News-Enterprise he’s spent the last 14 years cracking down on traffic enforcement.

“Since I was 19, that’s all I’ve done is write speeding tickets,” Richardson said.

Sarah Bennett can be reached at (270) 505-1750 or sbennett@thenewsenterprise.com.