(ST. JOSEPH, Mo.) The Buchanan County Prosecuting Attorney's Office collaborated with the St. Joseph Police Department to hire a criminal investigator at the courthouse.
Ronald Holliday, Buchanan County prosecuting attorney, said he began discussions with SJPD Chief Chris Connally back in January, right after taking office.
"The reason why is when we have cases heading to trial, oftentimes we have follow-up investigations that need to be done, additional statements, we need witnesses located, we need subpoenas served," Holliday said. "We would call detectives to ask them to help us, and they've always been very good at doing that, but every time we do that we take them away from their duties, we take them away from what they had planned to do that day to come help us prepare for trial."
Holliday said he hopes to pass on those trial preparation tasks to the new criminal investigator at the courthouse instead of having to call upon SJPD detectives or Buchanan County deputies to help each time. Something Chief Connally said also benefits his department in many ways.
"It kind of acts almost like a force multiplier so that our investigators can stick with the investigations they're working on, and then kind of a team environment creating that communication between the prosecutor's office and our office," Connally said.
The man hired for the position, retired police sergeant Richard Wall, started on Monday, October 1st.
"Anything I can do with my fellow officers to help make this community safe and sound is our goal," Wall said. "Working with Ron Holliday the prosecutor, and Chief Connally and Bill Puett, I've known them all a long time and they're good friends of mine."
Wall began his career as a police officer in Savannah where he was promoted to sergeant. He then took a job at SJPD in 1989, where he was assigned to be the Hit and Run Investigator before becoming an Accreditation Manager working out of Chief Connally's Office.
"I never did seek detectives while I was there, I was mainly in traffic," Wall said. "So I would style the accidents - or hit and run accidents, I would put them all together and submit them then to the prosecutor. So, even though I wasn't a detective as far as street crimes, etc., I was doing similar work as a traffic accident reconstructionist."
Wall added he had previously met Holliday during his time as an officer in Savannah, where Holliday was the prosecuting attorney at the time.
"So I learned from him back then how he wants police reports written to make a case on somebody," Wall said. "I learned from somebody very good, obviously."
After retiring from the police department, Wall obtained a nursing degree and was hired at Mosaic Life Care. Holliday said the nursing experience comes in handy when having to review medical reports for a case.
"Oftentimes it's difficult to read those because nurses, doctors they abbreviate things, they talk in medical terms," Holliday said. "So, I thought it would be good to have a nurse to review those medical reports when we have a case that involves injury, shooting, death."
Connally said he met with Holliday several times to discuss the position before adding it to their budget presentation that was brought before St. Joseph City Council. The City endorsed the expenditure for the current 2019-2020 fiscal year.
The new criminal investigator position will be equally funded by the City of St. Joseph and Buchanan County, each paying about $25,000.
"This is an opportunity for a partnership that will have a greater impact on outcomes related to crime," Connally said.