Just Passing Through
Trimble residents question why drug suspects released from jail so quickly
Thursday, February 27, 2014 10:00 AM
Six people arrested last week during drug raids were out of jail just hours after the police roundup, leaving area residents to ask why those arrested were released so fast.
Trimble County Attorney Perry Arnold
talks about the seriousness of the heroin problem in the county — specifically in Bedford — during the Trimble CARES
Coalition event concerning several recent drug-related arrests. (Staff photo by Ken Ritchie)
Nearly 40 state and county officials, community residents and substance abuse task force members met to discuss the arrests and court procedures just a week after police served warrants on 24 people - mostly Trimble County residents.
During the hour-long meeting, community members learned why only seven of the 24 arrested remain incarcerated.
The meeting - hosted by the Trimble CARES Coalition - gave Trimble County Sheriff Tim Coons, Trimble County Attorney Perry Arnold and Trimble County District Court Judge Diana Wheeler the opportunity to explain the process of a drug-related arrest and the court proceedings that follow.
Coons discussed the police role in investigating a tip or information about drug-related activities. He said police must find probable cause before a person may be arrested for drug use or before a search warrant may be obtained to search the premises for drug manufacturing.
Several of the recent drug-related arrests have happened as a result of knock-and-talks after police found reason for suspicion after looking at the National Precursor Log Exchange - or NPLEx - which tracks the purchase of products containing pseudoephedrine, Arnold said.
Police may go to a location to question why someone attempted to or purchased large amounts of the drug often used in the manufacturing of methamphetamine. An officer may request a search warrant of the location if police smell an ammonia-like odor from the home or has probable cause.
"That's how we've located a number of meth labs," Arnold said. "We have found meth labs all over Trimble County, but we've found a lot in Bedford."
He referenced two meth labs found within weeks of each other in one apartment complex on McDowell Lane. Others have been found on West Street and in other locations throughout the area, he said.
"Through the efforts of police, we're finding these places," Arnold said.
After the arrest, police take the suspect to jail where a pretrial assessment is held within 12 hours of arriving at the detention center, Wheeler said. The assessment takes a person's past history, employment and connections to the community to rate them a low-, moderate- or high-risk.
A bond can be set at that time, but pretrial services have been instructed by the state legislature through a bill approved in 2011 to release people on their own recognizance whenever possible to reduce jail numbers. Moderate- or high-risk inmates may have unsecured, surety or cash bonds set.
Each person arrested remains innocent until proven guilty, Wheeler said, and pretrial services allow people to be released while they await court appearances.
"Please don't think we don't care" by releasing inmates so soon after an arrest, Wheeler said. "We have to look at these case-by-case."
An inmate's release also allows for the possibility of drug treatment, she said, and people have a better chance of getting help if a monetary bond isn't set. Unsecured bonds allow family members to take responsibility and transport their loved one to a treatment facility for help while awaiting court appearances.
County officials have seen the number of drug-related cases in both courts increase over the last few years.
"Heroin has become a very big thing in Trimble County," Arnold said. "It's just going to get worse.
Heroin issues began in Cincinnati and have been trickling down Interstate 71 throughout Northern Kentucky over the past several years, she said.
Those issues now have reached Trimble County.
Trimble County resident Kenny Green gave credit to the work police are doing to help curb drug issues in the area. Still, the number of arrests are numerous in the rural area.
"The statistics are staggering for such a small county," he said.