Graves Commonwealth's Attorneys, law enforcement team up for 'Cops in Court'

Mayfield Police officers and Graves County Sheriff’s deputies attend training to hone their ability to testify in court. Graves County Commonwealth’s Attorney Richie Kemp said an officer’s testimony could decide the ultimate outcome of a case, and that the training would happen annually as long as he is in office.

Testifying is a scary prospect on any level. Taking the witness stand and answering questions for a judge and jury would leave anyone anxious, even the boys in blue. That’s why the Graves County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office recently teamed with local law enforcement to brush them up on courtroom etiquette.

Officers from the Mayfield Police Department (MPD) and Graves County Sheriff’s Office (GCSO) underwent courtroom training on Oct. 14 and Oct. 15 with the assistance of the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney Richie Kemp said honing an officer’s ability to testify could ultimately decide the fate of a case.

“In felony cases, which is what my office prosecutes, officers routinely testify, including, but not limited to, at preliminary hearings, suppression hearings (when there are suppression issues), and, obviously, at every jury trial law enforcement testifies and it is sometimes a key to whether or not we are successful in obtaining justice,” Kemp said.

He noted that officer courtroom training by prosecutors is “common in many jurisdictions but is not something that occurred in Graves County for many years prior to 2019.”

Even before taking office in January 2019, Kemp said local law enforcement leaders had requested such training, particularly for giving testimony. Last summer, Kemp, along with Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys Aimee Clymer-Hancock and John J. Beasley, held two similar events in a conference room at the Purchase Area Development District office, which included the MPD, GSCO, and Kentucky State Police. Kemp added that the training was “well received” by all three agencies, and that his office also benefited from it as well.

Earlier this year, Kemp learned of the Kentucky Cops in Court program and was excited to implement it in Graves County. He noted that the training was “not due to any short-coming on behalf of law enforcement,” and that the local agencies are “excellent and devoted,” with “excellent leadership.”

“These opportunities are also an opportunity for me and other prosecutors in my office to learn from law enforcement—it’s not a one way street,” Kemp said. “As long as I’m in office, training between prosecutors and law enforcement will occur at least annually.”