County OKs prosecutor to hire an investigator, and another deputy prosecutor

Mike Wolanin | The Republic New Bartholomew County Prosecutor Lindsey Holden-Kay talks about what’s in store for her first term at prosecutor during an interview at the Bartholomew County Courthouse in Columbus, Ind., Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2023.

After 40 years, the position of investigator for the Bartholomew County Prosecutor’s office will soon be restored.

The last prosecutor to have an investigator on staff was Richard Donnelly, according to three-term county council member and former two-term sheriff Mark Gorbett. Donnelly served one term as prosecutor from 1975-1979.

While campaigning, current Prosecutor Lindsey Holden-Kay talked publicly about the need to restore the position, Gorbett said. Former prosecutors that include Holden-Kay predecessor, Bill Nash, have also discussed bringing back the investigator, the councilman said. Gorbett added he’s wanted the position restored since he was sheriff (2007-2014).

The investigator’s primary duties will be to coordinate the investigative activities of the office, Holden-Kay wrote in a presentation for the Bartholomew County Council. Those duties involve follow-up investigations, locating witnesses, interviewing them and assisting officers in composing search warrant affidavits, Holden-Kay said.

The investigator would also promote an effective working relationship with all law enforcement agencies, provide investigative support to individual prosecutors, assist with training law enforcement personnel, and coordinate with the Indiana Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force, Holden-Kay said.

Only 23 of Indiana’s 92 counties do not have an investigator working exclusively for their prosecutor’s office, Holden-Kay told the council. While Bartholomew County does have an investigator working for Adult Protective Services to investigate reports of crimes against the elderly, that person actually works in multiple counties, Gorbett said.

Not only did the Bartholomew County Council approve the hiring of the investigator, but they also agreed to boost the annual salary for that position to $97,132. That’s $10,000 more than what was originally budgeted for 2024. The higher salary is necessary to attract qualified candidates, Gorbett said.

Holden-Kay wants the investigator to have a minimum 10 years of law enforcement experience, and prefers candidates with a bachelor’s degree in a criminal justice-related field.

Other qualifications listed by Holden-Kay include:

  • Knowledge and experience with legal document management
  • The ability to carry a firearm
  • Having a working knowledge of local, state and federal laws
  • Possessing a working knowledge of the Bartholomew County court system and operations.

The council agreed to the higher salary because they believe it was necessary to find people who have the necessary qualifications, Gorbett said.

Holden-Kay was also given the green light by the council to hire a fifth deputy prosecutor who will earn the same salary as the investigator.

Bartholomew County has the elected prosecutor and four deputy prosecutors. But with a population of 83,540, there should be 11 prosecutors, according to standards set by the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC).

Drug-dealing cases in the Columbus area went up 72% from 2009 to 2021, while felony battery cases have skyrocketed from 16 to 101 over a 12-year period.

Each prosecutor is handling 413 felony cases, while IPAC recommends a maximum of 320.

The average case load of each deputy prosecutor has risen 17%, from 415 cases in 2009 to 485 felony and misdemeanor cases in 2021, Holden-Kay told the council.

The hiring process for both investigator and deputy prosecutor are now in the final stages, Gorbett said.