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Management Control Of Marshall County NCIC Access Temporarily Shifted To County Attorney Office

Marshall County Sheriff's Office

This story has been updated with a correction notice.

The Marshall County E-911 Department is working to maintain access to the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database after a change to the department’s classification sparked debate on whether the 911 program is properly credentialed to continue using the service. 

The Marshall County Fiscal Court approved an ordinance in March classifying the county’s 911 dispatching center as a “criminal justice agency.” The ordinance explains the county’s 911 telecommunicators perform tasks that more closely align with an agency involved in the “administration of criminal justice.”

Marshall County Sheriff Eddie McGuire told WKMS the Kentucky State Police disagrees with the county’s interpretation of a criminal justice agency. McGuire said only agencies with a user agreement may access the NCIC database, which he said the 911 department does not have. The system allows law enforcement officials to search for records including stolen vehicles, missing persons and registered sex offenders.

“I got a call Thursday morning [July 30th] from an auditor with the state police that said 911 had until Friday [July 31st] at 3:30 p.m. to sign a user agreement with state police,” McGuire said.

McGuire said the sheriff’s office originally served as “management control” for the 911 department’s access to NCIC. He said the new criminal justice agency designation for 911 stripped the NCIC management responsibilities away from the sheriff’s office. He said KSP contacted him earlier in the year, but the agency said they would wait to remove NCIC access because of the ongoing pandemic.

With the looming threat of KSP physically confiscating NCIC-related files from 911 control, county leaders and the state police agreed to place management control of the database with County Attorney Jason Darnall. Darnall is the chief legal advisor to the fiscal court, and KSP said his office qualifies as a criminal justice agency.

“We have an ongoing disagreement about what a criminal justice agency is in terms of the definitions based on federal and state law, and we’re still working with the state police on that,” Darnall explained.

Darnall said his office serving as management control is a temporary arrangement that will not disrupt the county’s access to NCIC. He said 911 Director Chris Freeman is in steady communication with KSP, and the disagreement comes from an interpretation of statutes. 

Darnall has requested an opinion from Attorney General Daniel Cameron to clarify the types of organizations that qualify as criminal justice agencies. He said the attorney general is in receipt of that request, and the county is waiting for a response.

Correction Notice: The article was initially published on Aug. 4 with the title, "Marshall Co. E-911 Organizational Change Temporarily Jeopardized Access To Key Crime Database"and was changed on Sept. 1 to the current title. Marshall County Attorney Jason Darnall contends the county always had a failsafe, backup plan to maintain access to the NCIC database so there was never a danger of losing access. The title was the only change made to the original article. We apologize for the error. 

Dalton York is a Morning Edition host and reporter for WKYU in Bowling Green. He is a graduate of Murray State University, where he majored in History with a minor in Nonprofit Leadership Studies. While attending Murray State, he worked as a student reporter at WKMS. A native of Marshall County, he is a proud product of his tight-knit community.
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