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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 —

“It is definitely not a [JPD] policy to have the prosecutor review a search warrant prior to the application process with the judge,” said JPD Detective Isaac Parker said. “That being said, we have an excellent relationship with the office of the Clark County Prosecutor. Our investigators communicate with prosecutor’s office on a regular basis, so they are aware of the status of our investigation almost up to the date.”

Opposite of the NAPD’s stance, the Floyd County Sheriff’s Department always accepts the safety measure of the attorneys’ review.

"We never go straight to a judge on any search warrant,” said Floyd County Sheriff Darrell Mills. “The prosecutor requested us to file all search warrants through his office, so that is what we do."

The letter certainly raises eyebrows, says David Powell, executive director Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council.

“The first paragraph of the letter, which sort of said, ‘We are not going to talk to you,’ is certainly an issue of concern,” Powell said. “If I was the prosecutor, I would not have been happy to receive this letter, if that is your question, primarily, because, as you know, in any search warrant, a prosecutor has to defend those actions, and, typically, a prosecutor would want to know the content or want to know issues regarding the warrant.”

Powell said by the NAPD setting a policy of strictly bypassing a prosecutor’s review of search warrants, the community stands to risk an abridgment of their Fourth Amendment right, which guards citizens of unreasonable search and seizure.

“Let’s just say this, prosecutors are responsible, kind of, for oversight,” Powell said. “Police officers do not directly work for us, but indirectly they do, and the Fourth Amendment is serious business, and by that I mean, anytime someone’s home is searched, for whatever reason, a prosecutor needs to be concerned about that,” Powell said. “First of all, we want to make sure the search is appropriate, that the investigation is appropriate, and that we are not exceeding the scope of governmental authority and it is being done for the right reasons. The best way to do that is to review the material, make sure that you know what the case is about and that the search is appropriate before it is submitted to a court for final approval.”

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