Plan for Positive Change: A Proactive Community Approach to Criminal Prosecution
The underlying purpose of criminal prosecution is simple: To make our community safe by reducing crime. While this goal is easily stated, attaining lower crime rates requires a multi-faceted approach, which begins on our neighborhood streets. There has been a reinvigorated neighborhood movement in Clark County, and the prosecutor’s office, under my leadership, will be a partner with these associations, along with other community leaders. By partnering with neighborhood leaders, and the law enforcement officers who are on the streets everyday, the prosecutor can better anticipate crime, and take steps to respond to the community’s needs before crime occurs to keep it from happening. This is a proactive approach, whereby the prosecutor is working directly with community leaders (i.e., neighborhood association leaders, police, educators, social service leaders, etc…) to attack crime in our high crime areas, and direct resources to these areas to (1) reduce the opportunity for crime, (2) reduce the need for crime, and (3) increase the effective response when it occurs.
The Current, Reactive Approach in Place Now
As it stands, criminal prosecution begins after a law enforcement officer investigates potential criminal activity (based on a citizen report or his/her personal observation). Once the officer’s investigation is completed, a report is generated and is submitted to the prosecutor’s office for review and for formal charging. Currently, this is the first time the prosecutor’s office involves itself in the crime fighting process. Formal charges are prepared based on the information provided in the law enforcement officer’s investigation report and are filed with the appropriate court. The criminal defendant is then brought before the court for the reading of the formal charges, the Constitutional rights, the minimum and maximum possible penalties, the setting of deadlines, and follow-up dates to allow for information to be exchanged between the defendants attorney and the state of Indiana, and negotiations between the parties begin, often taking months or years. During this time all possible deterrent impact of swift punishment is lost, and local tax dollars are wasted housing the pretrial detainee.
This approach is out-dated and is not working as our community continues to grow.
The New Proactive Approach Under My Leadership
My commitment to Clark County is to the following core principals, which summarize some of the more specific policies I will be implementing if I am selected to serve our community as it’s next Prosecuting Attorney. If you have further question, please contact me and let me know.
Step One- Community Partnerships
I will be partnering with our neighborhood associations, law enforcement agencies, and other community leaders to keep a dynamic strategy in place to keep crime from happening in our neighborhoods.
Step Two- Focus on Training
The Prosecutor’s office will begin monthly training sessions with local law enforcement agencies, to help law enforcement officers, who are required to make instantaneous legal decisions that are later picked apart and scrutinized in court by attorneys attempting to serve their clients. Officers need to be provided the tools to confidently make these decisions. Along with these monthly training sessions, the prosecutors in my office will be partnering with police officers in each of our local police agencies to do “ride-alongs” to help build a sense of teamwork between the prosecutors and our men and women in blue. Without this perspective, a prosecutor simply cannot understand the sacrifices these men and women make on a daily basis. Lastly, deputy prosecutors will be participating in required jury trial training programs.
Step Three- Victims First
When people are victimized by criminals in our community, the Prosecutor’s office must respond to the needs of the victims and their families. Under my leadership this support will begin at the beginning of the criminal prosecution, and will continue until the criminal defendant no longer presents a threat to our community.
I want to be the next Clark County Prosecuting Attorney because I care deeply about our community and I am disappointed that we can no longer feel comfortable letting kids ride their bikes around my home town. To me, that means we have lost something that was very special about Clark County. We may never be able to go back to where we were, but I am committed to helping eradicate the forces that have stolen our sense of security.