POUND, Va. (WJHL) – Criminal charges will not be sought against 31 people previously charged by the Pound Police Department.
In a statement Wednesday, Chuck Slemp, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Wise County, said he was formally withdrawing criminal cases against 31 people charged by the police department, which no longer exists.
Slemp said it is his duty to protect the rights of everyone, including suspects and defendants.
According to Slemp, the 31 cases had already begun when the Pound Town Council voted to dissolve its entire police department. In that time, the preservation of evidence has come into question.
Slemp said in the statement that due to his responsibility to guarantee speedy trial deadlines, none of those cases will be brought to trial.
You can read Slemp’s full statement below:
As a prosecutor, I have a duty to seek justice within the bounds of the law, not merely to seek convictions. My office works diligently to serve the public, to ensure safety of our community, and to preserve public trust in the criminal justice system. I also work daily to protect the constitutional and legal rights of all persons, including suspects and defendants. It is for this reason that I will always exercise my discretion to not pursue criminal charges in appropriate circumstances.
The Town of Pound Town Council created a situation in which the preservation of evidence in numerous pending cases has been questioned. Therefore, today I formally withdrew criminal cases against 31 individuals facing various charges by the Pound Police Department.
After these cases were initiated, the Town Council made the decision to abruptly eliminate its police department. Given the Commonwealth’s burden to hold cases within certain speedy trial deadlines, in addition to other factors, I feel that the most prudent course of action is to allow the independent audit of the town police records to proceed prior to any of these cases being brought to trial.
I want to thank everyone in my office who worked so hard on these matters, spending hundreds of hours over the last two years processing paperwork, reviewing discovery, filing motions, conducting legal research, and preparing for trial in each of these cases.Charles “Chuck” Slemp, Commonwealth’s Attorney for Wise County/City of Norton
The Pound Town Council voted to terminate all of its police officers in May 2021. After making the decision, town leaders were faced with a legal dispute as to who would receive access to the evidence locker at the police department.