Police chief pleads guilty to drunken driving
CENTERVILLE, S.D. (AP) -- The police chief in Centerville, Nolan Clark, 26, has pleaded guilty to a charge of drunken driving.
Clark, who was arrested in late August, has stayed on the job since then.
In a plea agreement, a charge of possessing a loaded firearm while intoxicated was dropped.
It was the first drunken driving offense for Clark, whose license is being revoked for 30 days. A judge in Mitchell fined him ,000 and granted a stay of imposition on the misdemeanor charge.
Unless the city council chooses otherwise, Clark will remain as police chief and be eligible for a work-only driver's permit during his license revocation period.
Centerville's mayor, Valarie Fisher, said city leaders decided against disciplinary action until the case is resolved. Some action is appropriate, Fisher said. But she would not say what options the city council will consider.
Clark might have to face the South Dakota Law Enforcement Officers Standards and Training Commission, which could choose to suspend or revoke his officer certification. Rules list driving under the influence under the "moral turpitude" heading.
Clark's predecessor, Rayne Adamson, had quit as chief to run a bar months before Clark was hired. Later, Adamson was charged and eventually acquitted of allegations he sexually assaulted a 14-year-old girl.
But he was sentenced to eight years in prison last spring on charges of witness tampering and providing alcohol to minors.
Clark took the job after serving as an officer in Viborg. He started as a part-time police chief in April 2002 and went full-time after three months.
Before Clark started in Centerville, Adamson's wife, Dana, was found dead of a gunshot wound to the head. That case is still open. http://www.keloland.com/News/NewsDetail6371.cfm?Id=0
Centerville Police Chief Guilty Of DWI
The city of Centerville is considering how to deal with its police chief, who has pleaded guilty to drinking while driving.
In August, troopers arrested 26-year-old Nolan Clark at a sobriety checkpoint late at night in his off duty vehicle. He had a loaded weapon with him.
Prosecutors dropped the gun charge in exchange for the guilty plea on the DWI. Clark lost his driver's license for 30 days, but the Centerville city council will meet in the next week to decide whether he keeps his job.
Centerville Mayor Valarie Fischer sees three different options for how the city council will handle Police Chief Nolan Clark's DWI.
"Of course, one would be suspension. Two would be suspension with probation. Three would be dismissal," Fischer says.
Law enforcement leaders elsewhere say officers caught drinking and driving are not always fired. Superiors need to look at the circumstances of the offense, and how the officer handled himself following the incident.
In this case, Fischer says Clark did the right things after being caught.
"He has always conducted himself in a very professional manner," she says.
Clark volunteered not to get a work permit and will not be on duty for the 30 days when he cannot drive. And this year he is not teaching the DARE program at the elementary school, which warns kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.
The mayor says in this situation, it will be hard to find the balance between discipline and forgiveness.
"Making the decision to end someone's career is a difficult one and it needs to be weighed very heavily," Fischer says. "To err is human. And there probably aren't many of us who haven't. "
Clark has been police chief in Centerville for nearly five years. The reason this DUI case took so long in the courts is the scheduling conflicts Davison County had following the death of Judge Lee Anderson.