Feds provide ‘new tool’ in law enforcement arsenal
A new initiative to help local agencies combat violent crime was detailed Monday afternoon in Corydon by Southern Indiana District U.S. Attorney Joseph H. Hogsett.
Hogsett, who’s been traveling Southern Indiana to outline the federal-local collaboration initiative, which will focus on drug trafficking and on criminals who use firearms in their illegal activities, spoke with Harrison County Sheriff Rodney (Rod) Seelye, Corydon Police Chief Jim Kendall, Harrison County Prosecutor J. Otto Schalk and Corydon Town Council President Fred Cammack in the newsroom of this newspaper.
‘The desire, on my part, is to pay a supportive role to the work local law enforcement and county prosecutors are already doing,’ Hogsett said. ‘They are the yeoman.’
The initiative will create an opportunity for violent offenders to be prosecuted under federal law. He said some folks at the state level believe they no longer than get the paper work filled out on a criminal when they see the offender drive by and wave because he or she has been set free.
Those tried in federal courts are referred to the Bureau of Prisons ‘ the federal prison system ‘ in which the average offender serves 85 percent of the time to which they were sentenced. In state prison systems, the percentage of a sentence served is often 50 percent or less, Hogsett said.
‘Here in Corydon, I have asked police and prosecutors to help identify the ‘worst of the worst’ offenders with criminal histories who cycle in and out of local jails and decide who among those repeat offenders should be prosecuted under federal law for offenses that make the defendant eligible for stiffer sentences,’ Hogsett said.
Hogsett said he’s not talking about shifting a large number of cases from the state to federal courts, and said it may only be one a year from Harrison County.
He said the initiative is about sharing resources in a difficult budget era for everyone.
‘It’s encouraging you’re out in front of this … it sometimes falls between the cracks,’ Seelye said. ‘It sounds like you’re way out in front of it, and that’s encouraging.’
Seelye said he’s not sure how much business Harrison County will give Hogsett, but he said he thinks the initiative can help the county.
Schalk said it will be a nice tool to have, because criminals know the difference between federal and state prisons.
He said the attorney’s office will prosecute more gun crimes than ever before and increase efforts to identify and vigorously prosecute in federal court violent, repeat offenders and criminal gangs, especially those who use guns to further their illegal activities and criminal enterprises; increase the use of law enforcement and prosecutorial tools including court-authorized wiretaps, undercover and covert operations, surveillance, search warrants and use of the grand jury to develop the best possible cases; actively utilize federal drug laws and federal gun laws for the ‘worst of the worst’ to allow for pre-trial detention and stiffer sentences; and aggressively employ a multi-agency law enforcement approach to investigate, arrest and aid in the prosecution of these violent, repeat offenders and gangs.
Hogsett described it as ‘just another tool’ in the arsenal of local law enforcement.
Hogsett’s district totals 60 Indiana counties.
After leaving Corydon, Hogsett headed to Tell City. He had described the initiative in Salem earlier in the day.