JEFFERSONVILLE — A new partnership has been formed between law enforcement in Southern Indiana and Louisville to improve communication and prosecution of defendants with cases in multiple jurisdictions.
The Kentucky Indiana Prosecutors Alliance, or KIPA, is a recently formed partnership by prosecutors of both sides of the bridges, and was unveiled Tuesday at a news conference at the Falls of the Ohio Interpretive Center in Clarksville.
The spark for it came last fall when Floyd County Prosecutor Keith Henderson started looking for solutions to the high number of defendants who are transported back and forth across the Ohio River.
Henderson, along with Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull, Tom Wine, the Kentucky Commonwealth attorney for Jefferson County and Jefferson County attorney Mike O'Connell spoke at the conference.
The prosecutors noted the high instance of crime that either cross jurisdictions, such as in a high speed chase that starts in Indiana and ends in Louisville, or situations where defendants may have multiple cases out of all three counties.
“With the bridges, there are a lot of connections between our communities and our prosecutors' offices,” Henderson said.
He said it's hard to pinpoint a particular case in which having a formation like this would have been beneficial, because “virtually every day we're dealing with cases that are pending in these jurisdictions.”
The way the new partnership works is that there is a point person in each office that staff from the other counties call to cross-reference defendants. The offices share information through encrypted software. The shared information arms prosecutors with more knowledge about other cases going into court, and can strengthen a state's case.
As it evolves, the group will develop protocol that will determine which office may take the lead to negotiate multiple cases, Henderson said.
The prosecutors say the new partnership will not cost taxpayer money. In fact, it could save money, they said, by cutting back on transfers back and forth between jails in the two states.
“It's just us working together and working smarter,” Wine said.
And it is expected to create a more efficient environment for moving cases.
“Delay never works to our benefit,” Henderson said. “It just puts things on hold — it delays justice for the community, it delays justice for the victim.”
By being able to work together more efficiently, it will promote safety in the communities.
“That ultimately is what all four of us are about,” Mull said. “We go to work [to make] sure the people in the community live their lives in such a way that they're protected ...”
As crime evolves, so too should the systems that hold criminals accountable, the prosecutors said.
“The criminal justice system throughout the country is always trying to look for better initiatives, best practices, ways to do things that are more efficient and serve the interests of the people,” O'Connell said. “I think this is a great idea — you wonder why it hasn't happened before.”
Henderson said it also sends a pretty clear message to criminals.
“You cannot go to Kentucky, you can't go to Indiana and hide,” he said. “We will work together to ensure accountability and to ensure safety.
“This is the beginning of that era — of getting rid of barriers that come up in county and state jurisdictional lines.”