Hickenlooper near tears in talking about Clements
DENVER — Gov. John Hickenlooper was near tears talking about the shooting of Tom Clements, his pick as chief of the Colorado Department of Corrections.
Clements was shot at his Monument home north of Colorado Springs Tuesday evening. Police are investigating.
The governor, who appointed Clements executive director of the department soon after taking office in 2011, came near tears talking about his employee and friend.
“Our thoughts and our prayers are with his wife and his family,” Hickenlooper said at a hastily called press conference just outside the governor’s office in the Capitol Building.
The governor, who immediately traveled to Monument to meet with the family and employees at the DOC headquarters in Colorado Springs, even if he knew more details about the investigation into the shooting, he couldn’t speak about it for fear of stalling that probe.
Prior to coming to Colorado, the 51-year-old Clements served as head of the Missouri Department of Corrections, and has worked in corrections for several years.
Hickenlooper praised the reforms he has brought to Colorado’s prisons, and the work he has done to reduce the state’s recidivism rates.
“He was far and away the best choice we could find anywhere in the country,” Hickenlooper said. “He understood the importance of building a team and operating an enterprise for your staff to be motivated, focused. He understood the importance of making sure that when you released prisoners, especially those who had been incarcerated for extended periods, the better job you did in preparing them for returning to the community, job training, making sure they had medication if you have a mental illness. This would dramatically decrease the chance of being reincarcerated.”
According to the Associated Press, investigators are looking for a dark-colored “boxy” car seen near Clement’s Black Forest home where he was shot when he answered the door.
The vehicle’s engine was running and a witness reported seeing one person driving away in the car.
Tom Clements was shot around 8:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Authorities say investigators have not ruled anything out, but it could have been related to his job.