Former KPD Lt. Ralph Cline the subject of “active criminal investigation”

Ralph Cline, Former Kingsport Police Department Lieutenant (Source: Sullivan County Sheriff's Office)

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – The Kingsport Police Department is in the midst of an active and ongoing criminal investigation involving former Lt. Ralph Cline, according to a KPD spokesperson.

Public Information Officer Tom Patton said the criminal investigation “spurred out of the original internal investigation,” which resulted in Cline resigning and pleading guilty to patronizing prostitution.

“When that investigation is complete, any findings will be presented to the District Attorney’s office to determine what if any additional criminal charges would be appropriate,” Patton said. “As it is still an active criminal investigation with the possibility of new charges and further court proceedings pending, it would be improper and irresponsible to discuss the matter in further detail at this time.”

Patton said the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation is not involved cure, but said TBI “could be brought in again down the road” depending on the findings and discussions with prosecutors. He said the situation’s remained under review for more than three months.

“The potential additional criminal activity involving Ralph Cline that is currently still under investigation was brought to light in the very early stages of the internal investigation into prostitution which dates back to late September of 2017, and has been under ongoing review by our Internal Affairs investigators since that time,” Cline said.

In the weeks before Cline pleaded guilty to patronizing prostitution in November, we and others started surveilling his activity. Photos, time sheets and badge access history records showed Cline routinely and inappropriately drove his police cruiser to his second job and secured overtime grant pay for saturation patrols even though a picture showed his cruiser at his second job during one of those four-hour shifts.

A judge is scheduled to sentence Cline on the patronizing prostitution conviction next month. At the least, Sullivan County District Attorney Barry Staubus previously said our discovery could impact whether the judge grants probation and eventual expungement. He also said KPD can present evidence at that time too.

“I will consider any evidence presented to me,” he said in response to our inquiry about KPD’s active criminal investigation.

Cline’s attorney declined comment for this story.

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