Hopkinsville police chief makes a public plea to judges to reconsider some releases

“The problem is when judges release these individuals back into the public before our officers can even finish the paperwork, they’re sending a different message,” Newby said.
Police chief says some suspects who are arrested have been released before officers can complete paperwork.
Published: Jun. 22, 2023 at 11:07 PM CDT
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HOPKINSVILLE, KY. (WSMV) - A Kentucky police chief is pleading with local judges to stop allowing alleged criminals out of jail so quickly.

Hopkinsville Police Chief Jason Newby wrote a news release on Monday that was posted on the department’s Facebook page asking for help from the justice system.

“The problem is when judges release these individuals back into the public before our officers can even finish the paperwork, they’re sending a different message,” Newby told WSMV4 on Thursday.

Newby, two months into his role as police chief, wrote the post after police said a 19-year-old led police on chase after they tried to pull him over for a traffic violation. Newby says during the incident two patrol cruisers were damaged.

”This happened early morning hours and then we lodged him into jail and before our officers even finished the report we had found out he had already been released on his own recognizance by the on-call judge,” Newby said.

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The frustration for the police chief lies with local judges who he said releases people on their own recognizance, which means they’re released without the requirement of posting bail, based on a written promise by the defendant to appear on the required date.

”It’s the assistance that we’re not getting, and what I mean by that is that we want to put the word out to people who want to come to our community and run from us, that want to fight us, that want to cause problems in our community. Our statement to them is you’re not going to come to our community and act like that,” said Newby.

WSMV4 spoke with Derrick Harris, a Kentucky criminal defense attorney, explained why some judges could make release decisions on various risk factors the individual may pose.

“What they are going to take into account is your criminal history, and a big part of that is whether you’ve been convicted of a penalty, a violent offense, or sexual offenses we have declared in our statutes here in Kentucky,” Harris said.

And while Harris said he understands how law enforcement may feel like certain judge decisions interfere with their job, it’s all a part of a fair system.

“I know that they are feeling like they’re running into roadblocks, but these roadblocks are there for a reason, and they are there to protect citizens of that same jurisdiction from being convicted of crimes they didn’t commit. There’s a presumption of innocence and a right to have a non-excessive bond for a reason, and the reason is because the evidence can look like you’ve done something when you didn’t,” Harris said.

Newby said the crime rate has gone up and he’s reached out to the local judges privately before writing this news release.

“I sent them an email back in March expressing this exact concern. It didn’t change anything,” Newby said.

Newby said it’s important that law enforcement and the judicial system work together when it comes to letting some people out of jail after they’ve been arrested. He stressed how it’s law enforcement’s goal is to protect their community.

”When you let them go immediately it’s really a slap in the face to these officers that are putting their life on the line to go out here and apprehend these people,” Newby said.

Newby did say Christian County judges are very supportive of law enforcement and their roles in the community.

Since his Facebook post on Monday, Newby said he’s received many positive messages from the community. He expressed that his plea does not mean he doesn’t want to allow people not to have bonds rather he wants judges to reconsider their thought process behind their decisions on some releases.