The practice of prosecutors responding to the scene of serious injury and fatal crashes, collisions, and wrecks began informally in the mid-1980’s as a result of a study conducted by the coroner’s office. This experience enhanced the working relationship between police and prosecutors, and increased the success rate of vehicular assault and vehicular homicide prosecution.
In January 1988, the Fatal Accident Support Team (FAST) was officially formed. Membership on the FAST Team is offered to Assistant Commonwealth Attorneys from all divisions who are willing to commit to develop proficiency in prosecuting Vehicular Assault, Homicide and DUI cases. Members must be available, on call 24 hours a day, to respond as needed to assist, when notified by police. All members serve at the pleasure of Commonwealth’s Attorney Gerina D. Whethers.
Local law enforcement has the contact information for an experienced FAST Team member who is primarily responsible for responding to any incident. “Backup” coverage is provided by other team members.
At first, some police officers were reluctant to request the assistance of a prosecutor at the scene. FAST Team members worked to gain the confidence of the police, never interfering with the investigation but assisting in the preparation of legal documents, giving charging advice and streamlining the judicial process. Experience has taught that this first-hand knowledge is invaluable when prosecuting a case. Being at the scene and participating from the beginning of the case saves the prosecutor (and police officer) many hours of preparation time. Additionally, the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office is able to more effectively “screen out” cases which do not merit felony criminal prosecution. An added material benefit to the community is an increased opportunity for an expedited resolution of the criminal case. As a result, over the years, law enforcement agencies have come to value the assistance provided by this team.
The success rate of cases in which the FAST Team and the police have worked as a team has been outstanding. Statistics show that the highways of Metro Louisville have become safer since the inception of the FAST Team. In the future, as new opportunities for developing and enhancing enforcement of motor vehicle criminal laws arise, the challenge will be to see that even more defendants who commit felony motor vehicle offenses are held accountable, thus making the highways of Louisville and Jefferson County safer.
In summary, upon notification by police, a member of the the FAST Team will respond to all injury crashes, or fatal wrecks that may result in felony criminal prosecution. Especially targeted are crashes, collisions and wrecks involving excessive speed or the use of alcohol, drugs, or both. (The FAST Team sometimes handles other motor vehicle related cases.) FAST Team members are available for consultation regarding evidence collection, drafting of search warrants and charging decisions.
Mission Statement of the FAST Team
The FAST Team will provide assistance to law enforcement at the time of any motor vehicle collision, crash, or rollover within Metro Louisville and Jefferson County that may result in felony prosecution. In the role of prosecutor, FAST Team members will prepare court documents, and ensure the integrity and admissibility of evidence collected. FAST Team members do not act as investigators, but will review results of investigations and make charging decisions.
FAST Team members shall develop excellence in all aspects of DUI, Vehicular Assault, and Vehicular Homicide prosecution. Members respond when needed, prosecute each case fairly, and actively seek to educate citizens in the hope of preventing tragedy and making the highways of Louisville and Jefferson County safer.