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Upheaval in the Hillsboro Police Department over theft investigation

HILLSBORO, Mo. – A criminal investigation is underway centered on former staff at the Hillsboro Police Department.

Hillsboro Mayor Joe Phillips said Steven Hutt resigned as police chief earlier this week and another officer was fired last week.

Phillips said both departures were connected to an investigation of theft from the police department. The mayor would not elaborate on details of the alleged theft.

The mayor said he only recently learned about the alleged theft.

“It was reported ... I believe early last week. We decided immediately that we need to act upon that, so you can’t just let something like that lie still," Phillips said. "You have to validate it to find out that it’s not true.”

The mayor said the sheriff's department's investigation has turned up other serious problems in the Hillsboro Police Department.

"Issues such as lack of training or no training. We had a new officer that was sent out onto the street who was not qualified to carry a firearm at that point," he said. "Honestly, a person was left out to work but just after two weeks of minimal training and that’s just not enough even though they expressed concern they were not ready to be out on their own they were still sent out on their own."

In the meantime, Mayor Phillips and the Hillsboro Board of Aldermen have started negotiations with the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Department to provide police service for the city.

A lieutenant with the sheriff’s department will act as temporary head of the Hillsboro Police Department.

Phillips said he hopes a contract can be finalized in about a month.

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