State representative pushes for removal of Southeast Bullitt Fir - WDRB 41 Louisville News

State representative pushes for removal of Southeast Bullitt Fire chief

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An investigator shows chief Hatfield a copy of the search warrant for his residence. An investigator shows chief Hatfield a copy of the search warrant for his residence.
A sheriff's deputy explains the investigation to Hatfield outside his residence. A sheriff's deputy explains the investigation to Hatfield outside his residence.
Southeast Bullitt Fire Department chief Julius Hatfield speaks to WDRB during a meeting in November 2014. Southeast Bullitt Fire Department chief Julius Hatfield speaks to WDRB during a meeting in November 2014.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- State Representative Steve Riggs sent a letter to the Bullitt County Sheriff Wednesday, voicing his support for a full investigation into Southeast Bullitt Fire Chief Julius Hatfield.

Hatfield has been the subject of a six-month investigation by the Bullitt County Sheriff's Department for insurance fraud and abuse of public trust.

WDRB News was there as the sheriff's department raided Hatfield's home and office Tuesday afternoon.

The sheriff's department said it is investigating Hatfield for abuse of public trust, intimidating a witness, bribing a witness and insurance fraud. Hatfield has not yet been charged with any crimes.

Deputies hauled away boxes of evidence from Hatfield's residence Tuesday.

"The committee supports their effort to do a complete and total investigation," Riggs, chairman of the House Local Government Committee said. "It's taxpayer money, so they have to uncover every stone and check in every file to see what's happened with taxpayers money." 

The Southeast Bullitt Fire Protection District receives about a million dollars in taxes each year and turns over the money to the Southeast Bullitt Fire Department, called the "fire corporation."

Hatfield is the chairman of the fire district board and vice chairman of the fire corporation board.

The Sheriff's department says its concerned that the fire department spends only $375,000 to run the district, and wants to know where the rest of the money is. 

"A County Judge Executive should be right in the thick of this asking for a thorough investigation and meeting with its three people and asking the board to immediately suspend the fire chief," Riggs said. 

Bullitt County Judge Executive Melanie Roberts told WDRB she has no legal authority to remove Hatfield but she's talked to the three people she appointed to the board and told them to "do the right thing."

Riggs says the committee does not have the ability to remove Hatfield from office, but once this investigation is finished, it could result in a change in state law. 

"What we can do in the future, as a committee of state government is to review what's gone on and how, try to investigate how can a board be so lax and irresponsible as to allow someone to do this with the taxpayers money. So evidently, the checks and balances aren't in place where they need to be, and so that's something we're gonna look at changing," Riggs said.

In reference to a racial slur Hatfield used when talking about a black family from Cincinnati he was supposed to help at a crash scene, Riggs says  it appears their civil rights were violated and he's contacted the Human Rights Commission of Kentucky about the incident. 

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