Don’t expect to see a Hollywood twist on it, but Kosciusko County will soon have its own crime scene investigation team aimed at better collecting evidence and processing crime scenes.
Prosecutor Dan Hampton has organized the Kosciusko Major Crimes Task Force that will include Josh Spangle of the Kosciusko County Sheriff’s Department, Jamie de la Fuente and Jeff Ticknor of the Warsaw Police Department, Joe Denton of the Syracuse Police Department, and Mike Foster of Winona Lake Police Department. The men have already completed specialized crime scene evidence collection training and, by mid-September, the KMC Task Force will be operational.
Hampton says the participating law enforcement agencies combined resources for the task force which will provide “better time-management for law enforcement investigations. It allows patrol officers and detectives to remain on their assigned duties while trained specialists collect the evidence at major crime scenes.”
The standard operating procedures for the task force will require it to be run under the umbrella of the prosecutor’s office and will have each member serving as a supervisor on a rotating basis. If a major crime occurs in Syracuse and one of the Warsaw Police Officers is the supervisor at that time, the officer will have his squad car at the scene. It will be up to the supervisor to determine if the involvement of the entire task force is needed.
Among the crimes the KMC Task Force will be called to investigate will include homicides and other death investigations, suicides, robberies, rapes, fire scenes, batteries with serious bodily injury, child abuse and burglaries. It may also be called to assist the Kosciusko Fatal Accident Crash Team or medical examiners with autopsies. The task force officers are also trained to process searches of vehicles, computer-related crimes and certain types of drug cases.
While it’s true that Kosciusko County doesn’t have the crimes that larger areas like Fort Wayne and South Bend have, Hampton said he still expects the KMC Task Force to be called at least once a week. Their services may include detection of latent fingerprints, crime scene photography and/or video, preservation/collection of evidence and crime scene sketching.
The benefit of having a team specifically for major crimes, according to Hampton, is to free up patrol officers and detectives so they are not taken away from their regular duties.
Training of the task force is being done through a pre-trial diversion fund of the prosecutor’s office, but overtime fees or other expenses will be absorbed by the individual departments. However, Hampton said those additional expenses will be controlled by how the task force supervisory roles are established and are rotated.
Hampton assures having a Major Crimes Task Force in a county the size of Kosciusko County is not unusual and probably something that has been needed for the last several years, at least.
A headquarters for the new KMC Task Force will be located in what is now a garage bay at the Warsaw Police Department. The Warsaw Common Council has already been presented a plan for the conversion of the facility that will include an evidence processing room, an office area and an athletic complex that will be separate from the KMC Task Force side and be accessible only to WPD officers.
Hampton said WPD volunteered to remodel the garage bays for the facilities, but he assures the task force space will only be accessible to KMC Task Force members.
Officers who want to become members of the KMC Task Force must simply ask their supervisors if they can be approved to do through training, which is paid through from the prosecutor attorneys office.