Crossing county lines: a solution to the "Corbin Conundrum"

Police authority
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CORBIN, Ky. (WKYT) - We'll call it the "Corbin Conundrum." One town with three different county lines. The break down can be confusing, but it also restricts the way some law enforcement agencies work.

"We have people that come into our office and tell us we have a warrant for so-and-so. Well, where are these people? Well, they're on the other side of the Trademark, which is in Knox County. We have to forward this warrant to the Knox County Sheriff's Department to serve the warrant or subpoena," explained Sheriff Colan Harrell, of Whitley County.

Sheriff Harrell knows that his deputies face a challenge, especially in Corbin, where their cases may cross the county line. They're not alone, either.

"Anywhere near the border of Laurel County there is some crime that's committed, there that's committed just across the street, that's just outside of your jurisdiction," said Lt. Rodney Van Zant from the neighboring Laurel County Sheriff's Office.

Right now, under the Kentucky Revised Statutes any officer can go investigate anywhere in the state, but they don't have the power to make an arrest. As Lt. Van Zant explained it's as if the investigator becomes a civilian. So many officers and deputies choose to call a local police, deputy or even state trooper to come and be the arresting officer.

That can be tricky and very taxing on smaller departments.

"In this area of Kentucky, agencies are small and limited on man power," stated Lt. Van Zant.

That could soon be a thing of the past. The Sheriff's Offices in Rockcastle, Laurel, Knox, Whitley, and Clay County, along with the Barbourville, London, and Williamsburg Police Departments, are working on an "Interlocal Agency Agreement," that will allow for more authority.

However, this doesn't mean the different agencies will begin actively patrolling in the neighboring areas, rather it's a way they say will allow them to do their job a little more fluidly.

"Before we would have to round up or request that a trooper go with us or get a hold of the local sheriff's department, now we will have authority," described Sheriff Harrell.

"It really makes good sense," added Lt. Van Zant.

It's not just a measure for solving cases. Lt. Van Zant says it will also allow for a quicker mutual aide response, like they needed back in March after the deadly tornadoes. According to Lt. Van Zant, the KSR allows for help from other outside agencies only if it is requested, and he said in an intense event the request may get lost in the moment.

Although, this proposed agreement will allow for any of the signed agencies to immediately come in and help out, without having to wait for the request.

Yet, the measure isn't official. The eight agencies and their respective County Judge Executives and City Councils have agreed to the concept, but the agreement still needs to be signed by the Attorney General. Something that Sheriff Harrell says should be expected in the coming weeks.

"This turns things around," said the Sheriff.

Making this move a popular solution to the "Corbin Conundrum," and other issues like it.

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