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July 27, 2013

Rift widens between New Albany police chief, Floyd County prosecutor

In letter, New Albany police Chief Sherri Knight changes search warrant process

(Continued)

FLOYD COUNTY —

“During a recent investigation, confidential details and facts related to the incident were conveyed to the prosecutor’s office,” Knight said in a statement emailed from a city spokesman. “This confidential information was then disclosed to the media by the Prosecutor’s office, which compromised the effectiveness of the investigation,” according to Knight’s statement. “In an effort to uphold our values of accuracy, thoroughness, and integrity, certain safeguards were enforced with respect to the reporting and gathering of information. I informed the Prosecutor’s office on March 21, 2013, of these safeguards.”

Henderson declined to be interviewed for this story.

The letter, which was provided after a request to the city’s legal department, opens with Knight informing the prosecutor’s office of immediate changes the police department is implementing.

“While all members of our department have enjoyed working with your investigators in the past few years, we will no longer require their assistance in typing search warrants, nor will we be submitting search warrants to your office for review.”

The letter continues: “New Albany Police Officers are more than capable of drafting search warrants, and the are ultimately responsible for the probable cause that is presented to the judge when making such requests.”

When a obtaining a search warrant for a home or automobile, an officer must have the warrant issued by a judge. What is not required is a prosecutor or deputy prosecutor to review the search warrant prior to submitting it to a judge for final approval.

At issue is providing the officer discretion, or, as Knight has recently done, according to the letter, setting a policy that officers obtaining search warrants will never accept the review from the office of the Floyd County prosecutor.

 

WHO IS IN CHARGE?

Officials from surrounding law enforcement agencies, including the Indiana State Police and the Jeffersonville Police Department, say it is up to the officer whether or not to receive a prosecutor’s review while obtaining a search warrant.

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