Kearse also planning Sept. 30 retirement

Rolla’s chief of police has been placed on administrative leave the same week he announced his retirement from the police department.
However, Rolla City Administrator John Butz said Chief Mark Kearse’s pending retirement is not related to an investigation that will be conducted while Kearse is on leave.
An internal investigation will take place after the city received complaints filed by a Rolla Police Department employee. Butz said the initial complaint was made during the afternoon of July 21 right before Butz took a scheduled vacation.
Based on initial discussions, Butz said he felt the complaints should be investigated and that Kearse should be placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation. The decision was made by city administration action, not council action.
According to a press release from the city, Kearse has “agreed that the investigation is necessary to clear the air before his formal retirement takes effect.”
Butz said Wednesday that in a couple of days he will know who will conduct the investigation.
“It hasn’t been determined yet,” Butz told the Rolla Daily News.
The city’s news release states the investigation could be complete in about one to two weeks.
While the investigation is ongoing and Kearse is on leave, Lt. Rick Williams has been named acting police chief.
According to Butz, there was no way to conduct the investigation fairly for the parties involved under Kearse’s active supervision.
“We are confident the investigation can be completed in the next couple weeks and look forward to moving forward,” Butz said.
Butz said Kearse will be paid while he is on leave. Butz explained that it is typical during the initial investigation that the leave be paid.
“If at some point, they (investigators) determine there was something truly inappropriate or the investigation takes longer (than expected), then we would switch it to unpaid leave. Until we have some evidence and further details, we err on the side of caution for the employee,” Butz said.
Butz said Kearse has been accommodating and helpful so far in this process.
The announcement of Kearse’s leave comes the same week as Kearse submitted his plans to retire effective Sept. 30. Butz received his formal notice Monday.
Kearse had been contemplating his retirement for many months as he and his wife are also owners of the Fugitive Beach and the Fugitive Run Obstacle Course, Butz said.
This will mark Kearse’s 32nd year in a law enforcement career, with 30 of those years with the RPD.
Kearse was hired by the City of Rolla in 1982 and rose to the rank of chief in April 2007.
“I could not be more proud of the service and dedication of the members of the Rolla Police Department,” Kearse said.
He called the mayor, council and administration a great group of public servants and that it has been “a joy to work for” them.
“Chief Kearse has led by example and under his leadership the Rolla Police Department remains a professional, dedicated and well-respected agency,” said Mayor Lou Magdits. “We wish him all the best in his retirement.”
Butz said no discussions have taken place yet as to what will happen after Kearse’s retirement.