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Criminal investigations take time

Chief explains process

Numerous crimes have been investigated in the past several months by Peabody Police Department. Peabody Police Chief Bruce Burke wants residents to be aware of the process the police department is required to take when investigating crimes.

“When the police department has been called to an incident in the city, the general public is one of our very best sources of information,” Burke said.

The basis or starting point for any criminal investigation is a written complaint from a citizen.

“The only time this would not apply is when someone is dead or in the case of domestic violence,” Burke said. “Otherwise the police department needs a written statement and often makes every effort to obtain one.”

Written statements are necessary to make a base for the case. Those willing to give written complaints are serious about the situation. A written statement also gives credibility to reports of the incident.

To the general public it may seem like investigations are time consuming and can seem to take forever.

“I want to let the public know the police department always does the very best job we can,” Burke said. “In my career, I have seen investigations take as long as five years. Those were extreme cases but it has happened — right here in Peabody, Kansas.”

And right here in Peabody, Kansas, serious crimes have been committed recently in the community.

“These criminal investigations encompass a very large block of time but I want to assure everyone that these crimes are and will continue to be investigated properly,” Burke said. “As chief of police I would never tolerate anything less.”

Burke explained the differences of municipal and district court.

Cases that must be prosecuted through district court are all juvenile criminal cases, all felony crimes, all driving-under-the-influence cases that have the possibility of a third conviction or greater, any domestic violence cases where domestic battery is charged for the third or subsequent time in five years, and any city ordinance violation.

“Often, when we have charges that have to go to district court, we will add the city ordinance violation to the charges as well,” Burke said.

Municipal court handles all traffic code enforcement for all ages as long as the drivers are licensed; all city code enforcement including health and safety, animal control, inoperable vehicles, and city code violations; and any other type of misdemeanor crime.

When cases are submitted to district court from Peabody Police Department, they must be in affidavit form.

“Both courts require the same reports for cases to be filed,” Burke said.

Those reports include offense reports, arrest reports, narrative or affidavits, evidence custody sheets, possibly copies of photos or tape-recorded conversations or videos, victim/witness/suspect statements, information sheets, and Miranda warning statements.

Any revenue generated through municipal court returns to the city’s general fund. District court revenue stays at the county level.

“We could send more cases to the district court level, but it is the city’s policy, per city council directive, to keep as much as possible going through the municipal court system,” Burke said.

When a case has been filed with a prosecutor representing a court, this indicates that the investigation is complete and the case is ready for charging for the crimes that have been committed.

“Whether a case is filed for prosecution is strictly at the discretion of the prosecuting attorney,” Burke said. “Sometimes prosecuting attorneys ask for more information regarding a case or they can request additional follow-up investigation be completed.”

Sometimes a case is charged by a police department only to have the charges later changed or amended by the prosecuting attorney, Burke said.

“Attorneys have extensive training and education in all types of law,” he said. “What is ultimately charged is strictly the prosecuting attorney’s arena of responsibilities.”

Burke encourages residents to contact the police department if they have comments, questions, or concerns.

In case of emergency, dial 911, otherwise call (620) 938-2111 or (620) 983-2133. Residents can also contact Marion County Communications at (620) 382-2144.

“The police department continually strives to be fair, honest, and consistent,” Burke said. “All police-related services, functions, and activities are always conducted with the highest regard to professionalism and ethical decision-making.”

Last modified June 3, 2010

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