New Castle News

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June 29, 2014

City to participate in sexual assault task force

NEW CASTLE — The city of New Castle intends to participate in a countywide sexual assault task force.

City council introduced an ordinance Thursday outlining the agreement for the task force that has been established by the Lawrence County district attorney’s office.

Jonathan Miller, an assistant district attorney who is also assistant city solicitor, reviewed the proposal with council at its work session this week.

The task force will enable officers from participating municipalities to have countywide jurisdiction in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault and child abuse.

Miller explained the district attorney’s office has informally run the task force the past two years. Now, the district attorney’s office wants to formally establish the task force.

Officers from the city, Neshannock and Shenango townships and state police have been participating.

Miller said that in order to get countywide jurisdiction, “we need approval from the participating municipalities.”

The task force will allow departments to handle cases where there are multiple assaults occurring in more than one municipality and with a connection to a department’s jurisdiction, he said.

The coordinated police effort is expected to lead to more effective investigation and prosecution of child abuse, child sexual assault and other sex crimes.

Subject to funding, participating officers will be provided training that is specific to sexual assault and child abuse.

Council president William Panella expressed concern as to whether the task force would cost the city any money.

“You’re guaranteeing me it won’t cost us a dime,” he said to Miller.

If a city officer is working on a case that originates in New Castle, Miller said, the district attorney’s office will not pay for overtime. However, if another municipality needs assistance from New Castle, say, on a Saturday when the officer is off, then overtime would be paid by the district attorney’s office, he said.

If an officer is on regular city duty and called to assist another jurisdiction, he said, the officer would not get paid by the district attorney’s office unless he incurs overtime and it is approved by the district attorney’s office.

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