Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Ludlow reviews police policies



By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LUDLOW - City council will consider new policies for criminal investigations this week after questions were raised about authorities' handling of a drug investigation here.

The policy changes are in response to claims that a Ludlow police detective improperly sought cash payments in exchange for reduced sentences for people charged in a drug investigation. Several Kenton Circuit Court judges asked state police to investigate the matter last week.

Kentucky State Police confirmed Monday they have begun investigating unnamed Kenton County public officials in connection with letters seeking thousands of dollars as part of plea negotiations.

The complaint was forwarded to the Kentucky State Police Special Investigations Unit. Lt. Lisa Rudzinski, a Kentucky State Police spokeswoman, would not elaborate on the nature of the complaint, who filed it, or who it was against.

"All we have is an allegation at this point, and we don't want to jeopardize the integrity of the investigation,'' she said.

Kenton Commonwealth Attorney Bill Crockett said that Ludlow Police Detective Bill Schilling was acting in good faith when he sought to recover money the police department spent to investigate the drug cases. However, Crockett said his office repeatedly told Schilling there was no legal basis for his actions.

Ludlow Police Chief Ray Murphy referred all comment on the matter to City Attorney Chris Mehling.

Ludlow's proposed policy changes call for the Kenton Commonwealth attorney's office - not Ludlow police or any city employees - to handle any plea agreements and forfeiture of assets from criminal activity, Mehling said. They also state that Ludlow will not seek nor accept reimbursement for the cost of investigating any case.

Ludlow Mayor Ed Schroeder said he plans to present the proposed policy changes to Ludlow City Council on Thursday.

"My feeling is that we're going to tell the police, 'You make the arrests and get your case together,''' Schroeder said. "You present it to the Commonwealth attorney's office, and it's their case from there on. We thought that was the understanding in the past, but evidently somebody's wires got crossed."

While it is legal to seek the forfeiture of drug assets as part of a plea agreement, "it can't be a make-believe number," Crockett said.

On Tuesday, Crockett said no one from Kentucky State Police had contacted him about the investigation. "I'll help anybody," Crockett said. "The sooner this can be resolved, the better."

E-mail cschroeder@enquirer.com




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