JAMESTOWN – Police Chief and Public Safety Director Harry Snellings gave a brief update Monday night to the Jamestown City Council on how the new criminal justice reform laws changes are impacting Jamestown Police Department.
Snellings said department personnel put the rule changes for discovery into place last month to try and get a sense for how they would affect operations and he said city police have fallen behind on recording evidence.
“Our big concern right now is discovery. We are kind of in a wait-and-see mode as far as how that is going to affect us,” Snellings said. “We actually started implementing this back in December just to get the bugs out and get a better feel. We’re now a month in. We thought a month would be a good measure and it definitely has been. Once happening now is we’ve actually fallen behind in the handling of physical evidence because the majority of our attention is focused on all the digital evidence right now. We’ve got only one person who can handle it.”
Snellings adds that a plan is now in place to deal with the backlog of evidence.
“What we’ve done in the interim, we have a plan. Right now we have a case detective that we’ve cross-trained in the evidence handling who is assisting, but that takes that detective away from his day-to-day case work,” Snelling said.
Snellings added that to compound the problem he currently has one staff member responsible for processing digital evidence out on medical leave.
Under the state’s new discovery law, all evidence collected by police now has to be submitted to the court within 15-days, although a judge is allowed to grant an extension upon request in some instances.
The city council is also weighing the option of voting on a motion that would call for the state to repeal or at least an amending of the criminal justice reforms.