B’ville police cracking down on warrants

Published 10:29 pm Tuesday, July 9, 2024

New brooms, proverbially, sweep clean. New deputy police chiefs do as well.

Batesville Police are more than a half year into a new administration and Chief Dennis Darby and Deputy Chief Barry Thompson have made a series of changes, sometimes subtle, that are fundamentally altering the course of law enforcement, and crime, in the city.

Thompson said this week he and other officers have found a new pile of debris to sweep – one that will clear many backlogged cases and should lead to an increase of collected fines and civil penalties.

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“It was just brought to my attention that Batesville has way too many outstanding felony warrants that haven’t been entered into NCIC and that’s changing starting this week,” Thompson said.

“There’s some people out there that think the charges we have against them have been swept under the rug, and I guess they have been for about three years now, but that’s going to change,” he said.

“These are not violent crimes, they are mostly paper crimes and property crimes, but they are felonies and we intend to have them all entered on the system very soon,” Thompson said. “When we get a call that someone with a warrant here has been detained, the Batesville police will be going to pick them up and bring them back.”

“For whatever reason, there are charges that get filed and people are never served. Sometimes they know police are coming and leave town, and that’s what NCIC is for to help us locate these people,” he said.

Additionally, the department is working to add a warrant officer once the ranks are fully staffed. That position would have the resources to follow up on outstanding warrants and reduce the caseload of old cases in the department.

NCIC stands for National Crime Information Center is a computerized index of criminal justice information that is available to federal, state, and local law enforcement and other criminal justice agencies and is operational 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The system was started in 1967 by J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI and radically changed law enforcement. Improvements and upgrades to the system now allow the smallest of law enforcement agencies access to criminal information nationwide.

More importantly for small jurisdictions like the BPD, the NCIC allows persons with outstanding warrants locally to be taken into custody by officers across the nation who check identifications in the central database.

Routine traffic stops in other cities and states often lead to arrests for outstanding warrants. Batesville has a large number of these cases, Thompson said, that have a similar pattern. Persons with charges in Batesville will leave the area to avoid prosecution, and the small department doesn’t have the manpower, or budget, to send officers on multi-state trips looking for suspects.

Thompson said once the outstanding warrants have been added to NCIC the department will then focus on assisting the city’s Municipal Court with collection of old fines, which have grown to about $2 million by some estimates.